when life gives you lemons

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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.

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.

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.

meditations on the kiwi coast

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So the ever inspirational Kate from Foxs Lane is doing this thing called ‘A Motif a Day for May‘. The idea is you select a craft, most are crocheting a motif, and you meditate whilst you make. Because creating, for most of us, is a form of meditation. It’s that time when you are in the zone and not much else matters.

I think that’s what meditation is at it’s heart… to slow down and get into the zone of something where you are not thinking about what’s for dinner, if the cats been feed yet and if it’s going to rain on your washing! We have so much going on in our lives, it’s not very often when you are thinking or concentrating on just one thing. Whether that’s your breathing in ‘traditional’ meditation, or ripping out that next weed you can reach, or painting or drawing, or cooking up a batch of muffins, or walking in the mountains or along a beach… I think ALL those things are forms of meditation if they are something that you just love to do.

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I’ve been playing along with lots of others on Instagram using the hashtag #motifdaymay, but instead of crocheting a motif I’m doing a row (or three or four) of my Kiwi Coast Blanket. I spend the time thinking about what part of the Kiwi Coast I’m crocheting represents, and I reminisce about our recent roadtrip around the North Island.

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As I crocheted the colours of the Napier shoreline, I thought about its huge waves that crash so close into its shore of shiny black pebbles… of falling asleep to sound of those waves… of the gorgeous jade green beaches…

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As I crocheted the choppy waves of Lake Taupo, I smiled remembering eating a $10 half crayfish we brought from Napier, whilst the Lake Gulls hovered above us waiting for scraps… the blues and whitecaps on the water… the chilly breeze that blew through us as we licked our crayfish fingers overlooking the lake…

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I’m crocheting the Hot Water Beach rows at the moment and it’s sooo lovely to remember that blissful feeling of sitting in steaming hot water, watching the waves roll in… the pretty reflections on the sand as the tide rolled out…. steam rising from the sand looking other wordly yet calm and peaceful…

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I love selecting the next colour I’ll use, and thinking about what stitch I might use with it to conjure up the particular coast, beach, bay, lake I’m thinking about. It’s really helping to slow down my mind whilst I crochet.

You see I’m consistently inconsistent… crochet is many things to me. Sometimes crochet will be my mental escape where I’ll think of nothing else but the stitches and get into a lovely peaceful rhythm. But sometimes crochet will be my mental checklist like I must remember to get potatoes tomorrow and get that load of washing out of the washing machine. Yet with the #motifdaymay awareness, and my Kiwi Coast Blanket theme, I have been relaxing into a peaceful world of sweet holiday memories and colours and stitches. How can it not be restful to the mind to think about relaxing beachy holidays?!

I do feel really relaxed and calm when I crochet this blanket. I think this vibe mostly comes through in the blanket… although… it’s a bit like me in that it has a few tension issues too! I’m hoping, for the blanket, they’ll wash out in the blocking process… and for me, they’ll fade a little as I keep crocheting it.

Are you playing along with the #motifdaymay? It’s not too late join… Just pop over to Kate’s blog to find out more…

Wishing you peaceful in the zone moments…

kiwi cups & the kiwi coast

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Kiwi Cups… just little container thingys really, but I like the sound of Kiwi Cups.

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Named so as I made them up on our recent roadtrip around the North Island of New Zealand… and I thought they looked a bit like kiwi fruit colours… before I added the grey one.

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I’m using them for business card holders, pens, froggy buttons, crochet hooks and I’ve just started using one to pop all those endy bits of yarn you snip off whilst crocheting. I often just have a big ol stack of them on the coffee table, but now they will look neat and organised tucked away in my Kiwi Cups… for a little while at least!

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The kiwi cups were born from my hoarding ways… You see I bought a stack of this yarn, and the balls of this particular cotton/bamboo blend came wrapped around these cardboard cylinders. They were too good to throw out, I knew ‘one day’ I would make something of them.

The idea came to me as I was tidying up my craft room and I started popping pens in the cardboard containers that were sitting around. I suddenly realised I could make them look a whole lot prettier if I crocheted around them, and If I added a base they would actually be practical. I packed a couple in my luggage along with some random lime green yarn hanging nearby, and somewhere between Lake Taupo and Wellington ‘one day‘ finally came.

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Remember my kiwi yarn purchase? It started in Napier and was added to in Rotorua. Inspired by the gorgeous colours of the North Island East Coast, I wanted to crochet a big blanket with all the lovely greens, aqua, turquoise and blues I kept seeing in the oceans, bays and beaches. It would be my Kiwi Coast Blanket. And even better, I had the perfect excuse to find yarn shops and buy more yarn. Serendipity!

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When I got home I realised I also had some colours in my stash from Bendigo Woollen Mills that would really set it off.

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I looked for an inky blue yarn in NZ but luckily I didn’t find any, as I had some already. I just love these colours together and have totally got my crochet mojo on making this blanket. You know, that feeling when you can wait to finish the row just to see how it’s coming along?

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And it’s a big long row… I want a big blanket… this baby is 242 stitches wide! I’m using this pattern as a guide. Huge thanks to Hannah from Not your average Crochet, for the fantastic pattern and great tutorial with loads of photos! From what I read Hannah’s pattern is inspired by Little Woolie’s pattern. Jules from Little Woolies has a great link on her blog with lots of pictures and patterns that can be used in a blanket like this. A big thanks to you too Jules!

I will be changing colours and stitches in my Kiwi Coast Blanket, but I’m also plan on doing larger blocks of colour with the different stitches to add some subtle texture to the blanket. Like the ripples, white caps and waves of the ocean… at least that how it appears in my crochet imagination anyway!

As I’m finishing one row I’m thinking about the next stitch and colour combination… this blanket is going to evolve. I don’t like to plan things too hard or, as you know, stick to a pattern. I’m too fickle, indecisive and disorganised to do that! I’ll either run out of yarn or change my mind before I get the to end of a complete pattern. I LOVE to use a pattern as a guide, but I like to let the blanket and yarn and my mood take me where I feel like I’m meant to go… that’s just the way I crochet.

How do you crochet, knit, craft? Do you kinda make it up on the way or do you plan it?

Whatever works and gives you your craft mojo is the right way in my books.

Wishing you happy mojo moments…

I’ve been doing a bit of this lately…

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Crocheting this… and it hasn’t been all straight forward.

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There was a bit of this involved… it included scissors! Doesn’t that just feel wrong to have unpick something with scissors?

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It was my own fault, I thought I was being a smartypants darning my ends in as I went. But that only works if you are totally sure you love what you are making… I thought I did. It was probably the first and last time I’ll darn as I go… Darn it! (sorry, lame puns are my specialty)

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This is take two. I’m going with the granny stitch in the granny stripe pattern… obviously without the stripes. You can find the granny stripe pattern here in amongst some other lovely crochet and colourful goodness by Lucy at Attic 24. You can find the Puffy Flower Granny Square pattern here, and there’s a very easy tutorial on youtube here by the lovely Clare Sullivan of Bobwilson 123.

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I’ve been doing my bestest to move to the slow, and this crochet in the park session was a big leap in that direction. It was only for half an hour or so but geez it was heaven.

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Remember I showed you a picture of hubbys new natural hide? Ha ha… just made myself laugh at that sentence… for first time readers I should probably include the word leather hey? Leather hide that is. Kangaroo leather to be specific. Anyway, I’ve had these ombre fimo beads for a while now, I made them back here. They’ve been strung on a single piece of leather, waiting for hubby to plait me one of his signature necklaces.

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I really love how the natural colour doesn’t detract from the pop of colour in the beads. And I love that you can adjust the length of the necklaces to suit your outfit. And just look at how fine that plaiting is! He’s a smartypants isn’t he? I think you might see more of these. I’ll just add it to my ever growing crafty to do list.

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My overflowing craft basket, with its two bags of yarny goodness had a clean out recently, motivated by the recently gifted new basket. How cute is it? I absolutely adore the birdies on the handle.

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And lately my inner-nanna has stepped aside for my inner-rockchick. Well maybe not rock, more like country-folk-chick. The Stray Sisters are the two sisters from The Waifs and boy are they amazing. And boy can they hold a tune. And lets face it, who doesn’t love a gal who can rock out the harmonica? It was a two coffee morning this morning thanks to this gig last night. It was great, a fab night out with some very special peeps but I’m feeling a little worse for wear this morning, possibly due to getting to bed at 1 a.m. and maybe thanks to a Mojito too many.

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I also managed to catch the incredible Neko Case recently. Wow wow wow! You can’t walk out of a Neko gig without being blown away by her majestic voice and tight as band. There were goosebumps during the acapella song! So so good. Neko is probably one of my all time favourite artists and this was the second time I’ve seen her… It won’t be the last.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. How about you? Doing any ugly unpicking? Getting to any gigs? Crafted in a park lately?
I’m going to leave you with a couple of links to some songs by the The Waifs and Neko Case… happy listening and happy days to you!

this one

this one

this one

this one