Thursday, August 30, 2012

COOKING: Almond and Berry Slice

I love a recipe that NEVER lets me down. Something that's FOOLPROOF!  I also dislike a cake recipe which makes us "cream butter and sugar" first. It's funny - the idea that if your butter is at room temperature - that is the optimum temperature for frustrates me because in summer we cannot leave our butter "out" because it will be too soft...... and in winter the butter left out is still too hard to beat because we here in Adelaide often leave our houses without heating during the day....and only cave to switch on some form of heating at night...... when it is really cold. So it leaves a very small "window" for which our butter is good temperature for beating!!

Anyway - along came this recipe and it was instantly a big-hit with me because I do not have to use any electrical klunky appliance to make it. Old fashioned bowl and spoon (or spatula)! Wonderful!!

This recipe is also magical because the finished cake slice can be eaten at room temperature, or zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds to slightly warm..... and then serve with a dollop of thick cream and dusted icing sugar for an impressive dessert. The combination of almond and berry always impresses. Trust me - don't lose this recipe - you will refer to it again and again.

For the complete recipe CLICK HERE.

This recipe calls for a cup of almond meal......I always buy whole raw almonds and blitz them in my mini processor (and I don't bother to take the skin off either). I like the feeling that leaving the skin on is delivering more nutrients into my slice!!!

My homemade almond meal.

Icing sugar, plain flour, baking powder sifted into a bowl. Almond meal and lemon rind in there too.

Add in the butter and eggs. Make sure the butter is nice and cool after the melting process. Stir gently till combined well. Don't overwork.

Pour into lined cake pan.

Sprinkle frozen berries on top and then finish with a sprinkle of the raw sugar.

The slice after baking. This one took 40 minutes but check it after 30.

This cake is moist and delicious. Freezes well too.

Would I lie to you????

Friday, August 17, 2012

FREEDOM: Random Stuff

Hi all,

Our winter is still biting....yesterday and today there were wind and rain storms, and we received 19mm of rain in the gauge. Looking out of the home office window right now....there is bright blue sky and bright least the solar panels are making power!!

During our local walks with our mini schnauzer, Rubie, I'm starting to see spring bulbs bursting into life. Who can resist a lilac Iris????

 Everything is so green...... but the trees still look mainly bare.

This blackbird found a little quiet time in our conifer tree outside our dining room window.

This was my very pretty pre-dinner drink when we attended an Indian Restaurant with friends last week. It was a rosewater and cardamon lassi - and it was the same colour as the knitted top I was wearing! Yes - it was yummy too!

While out walking, I spotted a mosaic house number....... NOT made by me!

I think it was simple but effective. I have two orders from family, a house number for another brand new house (husbands' cousin is building) and my sister in law has ordered a beach-themed house number. Keeps me out of trouble(!)

On a cold Sunday morning.... we woke up to a smoke filled ravine reserve. This was not fog because I smelled the smoke coming into our ensuite window.

The burning house smoked badly for about two hours, and the fire brigade were there quickly. It was actually a fireman who was driving home from night duty that spotted the smoke erupting from the roof.

He stopped and smashed the front windows to begin to search for occupants. It was reported he rescued two teenagers (14, and 16). Not sure what the situation was with the "parents" - it sounded like they were not home on the Saturday night..... but were emotional and grateful to the fireman hero who spotted the smoke and raised the alarm.

The firemen were lying on the roof and shooting water into the roof space. The fence is all scribbled on.... the fences face an empty block and the back fence faces the ravine reserve..... apparently a great spot for vandals with spray cans(uuuurrrrrr!)

The aftermath. This house has been totally gutted and will be torn down and rebuilt. The shell is now boarded up in the interim while insurance things are being sorted. Just goes to show how important House Insurance is......I cannot believe that it is not a top priority for some! The loss is estimated at 300,000 dollars. A huge shock and sad time. This is the first time I have been so close to a house fire.

Thank goodness no one was hurt.


Hey - I received this knitting book with one of my Better Homes and Gardens mags. Instead of throwing it away (I never learned to knit) - does anyone out there wish to have it???? Email me at 


and leave me a mailing address and I'll gladly post it internationally to whoever wants it. The designs look very nice especially the "multi-way" wrap.

Keep an eye out for my next post - it's a Berry and Almond Cake that is SO EASY yet impressive and you will make it again and again.

Have a Great Day!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

CRAFTS: Rescued Garden Bench and Mosaic House Numbers

I admit it. I look at the stuff people put out on their footpaths after they have booked a "hard refuse" collection by their council. Subtly of course. Most of it is stuff that needs to be thrown away after years of service. It also reminds me that I should be chucking some stuff out too. But I'm a bit of a closet hoarder and secretly hate to part with things.

Me being crafty...... makes my brain look at rubbish with a view of giving it "potential".... improving, restoring and giving the item the ability to shine on in another life. Don't show me old wooden furniture. I'll be ordering my long suffering husband to lug it home for me under the cover of darkness in the evening.

That's what happened to this garden bench. It was painted up in the "folk art" style with ivy leaves along the backrest and a huge rose on the seat..... all flaking and peeling and the bench wobbly and unsafe. Again, stupidly I had not taken a photograph so you can't actually see the state it was in. Duh I'm silly sometimes!

So I can only show you an "after picture". After lots of sanding (me)..... and structural repair and reinforcement (thanks hubby).... and three coats of outdoor furniture stain and varnish (me), here is the finished piece:

Not shabby now.

And the seat even has storage under its hinged lid!

I have to admit....that during the sanding process I am cursing myself for my vision of the end product ..... it is hard work and easy to become unmotivated at that stage. But I'm glad I finished it - and I wonder what the people who threw out this bit of rubbish would think of it now!! Lol!


I recently offered to make a mosaic house number for my husband's daughter who demolished and then built a brand now house on the same plot. Unfortunately her house number is "8" on the street and curvy numbers are a bugger to mosaic...... and "8"s  are  *** ALL CURVES!!***

Anyway, I had already offered so it had to be. The step daughter wanted something very plain..... so here it is:

 Dainty and Plain.

Thank goodness I found these wonderful "jelly bean" shaped glass beads...... my solution to "curvy" problems!

Husband hung it up on the house.

And it looks good. Many people have complimented the home owner on it    :-)

Then my sister had a birthday...... and guess what - I decided to mosaic a house number for her. 

You wouldn't read about it......

Her house is NUMBER 8 too!!!! Grrrrrrrr!!!!!!

I thought browns and greens would compliment the browns of her house.

I think it compliments the lovely brick pattern really nicely.

She was delighted. I would be too.

Now - NO MORE "8"'s PLEASE!!!!