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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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?

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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.

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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.

allergy friendly toasty fruit bread

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.