Thursday, 15 October 2015

Coconut-sugar pastry Tarts with Honey-Matcha Labne and raspberries.

I have a special treat for you today - my wholefood chef neighbour Jean, has a sweet dreamy tart to share. It's got all good stuff in it, and it looks as amazing as it tastes. I'm ready for a cup of tea and a pretty little tart right about now!

What a delicious way to taste early Summer's delights, and remind us that we eat first with our eyes. The Matcha green tea gives the labne the most stunning colour; add more to amp it up or keep it subtle and pretty like we did. The sweet vivid raspberries were a perfect mix for the smooth creamy labne, which is a healthier alternative than custard or cream. And don't the colours just make you think of dreamy Summer evenings, lingering over a dinner party. These are great tarts because the prep is done beforehand, and the assembly is quick and easy. 

We used Matcha-Sol Organic Matcha Green Tea, which is the highest form of antioxidants for a green tea, as you're drinking / eating the whole (powdered) leaf. You can read about the health benefits on their site; or you can just enjoy these tarts with a cup of vibrant Matcha tea knowing they taste good and are good for you. 

Jean Martinez, of Artisan Wholefoods, works with foods to heal the body, using ferments and real, wholefoods. She runs classes on how to make ferments, wholegrain breads & pastries and much much more. Her hands-on workshops show off her passion for healing the body through a real and natural way, but more importantly enjoying the food you work with and eat. Jean's food isn't health food for the sake of it, it's about a whole lifestyle change that's enjoyable and bubbling with local colour and taste. Please do go and have a look at her workshop schedule, or follow her on Instagram and drool every day over her delicious yet real food - Jean is my neighbour, and often I'm at my home looking at the yum she's having for afternoon tea (on IG) ….and sometimes we invite ourselves up!

Coconut sugar pastry tarts with Honey-Matcha Labne filling
These delicious tarts have the subtle taste of matcha green tea with smooth raw local honey. The matcha gives the labne the prettiest green hue, which combines perfectly with the pop of fresh raspberries. The refined-sugar free pastry is crunchy and nutty, perfectly crumbly and could be used to make biscuits or cookies. 

Honey-Matcha Labne filling

About 4 cups plain full-fat unadulterated yoghurt will make about 2 cups of labne.

Labne is carefully strained yoghurt that mysteriously takes on a bit of an ice-creamy texture (well, I think so anyway). Simply place cold yoghurt in a clean cloth – I use muslin folded a couple of times, in a sieve to line it, and sit this over a bowl. Scoop your yoghurt into this, and place back into the fridge for hours or overnight – depending on your level of organisation and how soon you would like your labne. A minimum of 3 hours is good.

Place strained labne in a clean bowl and scoop in a couple of tablespoons of wild raw honey, some vanilla paste and matcha tea to taste. I used about 4 scoops from the beautiful bamboo scoop that came with the tea (approx 1 teaspoon) - this created a subtle taste and soft green colour. 

Whisk to combine and place back in the fridge while you make the pastry.

Coconut sugar pastry

   500g unbleached plain spelt flour
  100g arrowroot flour
  150g coconut sugar
  300g unsalted butter, cold but has sat out of the fridge for about 10 minutes.
  ½ tsp salt
  1 free range egg
  2 free range yolks

Place flours, coconut sugar, butter and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Turn on to a low-medium speed and allow the butter to work into the flour until it resembles crumbs.

Turn mixer off and scrape the bowl with a spatula, and loosen any bits of butter that may not have mixed in. Pour in egg and yolks, and turn back on to low and continue to mix until it becomes a cohesive ball.

Turn onto a lightly floured bench, and squish together, before dividing in to 4 equal pieces and flattening them into disks. Wrap separately and label.

Chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Use 1 disk (1/4 of the pastry recipe) to roll out for the tarts - This will make 3-4 10cm (4inch) tart shells.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C

Roll pastry between baking paper to desired thickness – about 4 mm

Grease 3 or 4 tart shells with a little butter, and carefully place pastry in each shell, being sure to push it into the corners, and trimming the tops. (The scraps can be re-rolled to make coconut sugar cookies).

Blind bake for about 15 minutes, then finish baking for about another 10 – or until pastry is lovely and golden.

Set aside to cool.

Scoop honey-matcha labne into cooled shells, top with some gorgeous fresh raspberries and then add a dusting of matcha over the top. Serve immediately. 

Recipe devised by Jean Martinez of Artisan Wholefoods. Styling by Ellie Beck, photography by Jean.

* The Matcha green tea was gifted to me from Matcha-Sol. I love enjoying it as a cup of tea, but am also excited to try it as cookies using this pastry dough recipe.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

create learn connect share

One of the things I love doing the most, in my creative outlet, is teaching and sharing. 

Have I ever told you that when I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher? Of course, I always thought that meant being a primary school teacher - sitting at a desk with a vase of flowers and the chalk board to draw or write upon. We used to play schools during our holidays, and I was always always the teacher. And all the dolls and teddys and animals and my sister were the students. 

So now, that my creative job - career! - has evolved into being a teacher. Well… I think it's a whole lot of lovely, and little bit strange. Of course, I don't sit behind a desk and teach the times tables or English language or about Roman clothing. Now I sit beside my students, I walk amongst them. My hands guide their hands, my voice shares my skills, experiences and knowledge. And my students go away after a day's lesson knowing how to work with their hands, so create something heart felt, meaningful, beautiful. And, hopefully, how to tap into their own innate creative self, how to express their creative vision and discover their own way of working, rather than following someone else's or copying pinterest.

All this is to say…. I have some workshops coming up soon and I hope that you can come along, that I can guide your hands and converse with you, and share my love of making and discovering your creative journey. 

Loom Weaving ~ oh my, you ready to become addicted to something soft and cuddly and seriously good! I love weaving in a way I haven't quite ever connected with the other yarny crafts.

Natural Botanical & Indigo Dyeing with Shibori ~ eeekkk eeekkkk. Yes. This will change the way you look at plants, flowers and leaves and you'll be dyeing every piece of pale fabric and yarn in your life. Seriously my full love for this way of working. 

Product Styling & Instagram ~ So… the real reason I haven't been at this lovely little blog for the past of 4 years is Instagram. If you follow me (and do… please do!) you'll know how much I love it so. In a good good way. Because it's so good for connecting with other people, and having a creative outlet and somewhere to share and learn and inspire and be inspired. Anyway, in this workshop I will share my way of styling products and things for selling and for fun, and also how I go about 'doing Instagram.' It's seriously going to be GOOD. 

You can find all my workshops and creative event info on my website here. Or join my mailing list… (send me an email to and I'll add you to the list). 

practicing balance :: Slow Your Days

My baby will be one in only a couple of short weeks. I'm feeling like time and days and years are whirling away from me, at an increasing speed. I want to grab hold of those moments - not to stop time, but to live within it, to appreciate it, to acknowledge it; rather than existing around it and constantly chasing time. I'm guessing this is something we all aim for, wish for….hope for. 

I know we can't stop time; but we do have the mind power to slow time. I believe anyway. To be present and conscious is slowing time. To live inside time slows time. But how? 

I'm working on this, slowly slowly. As a parent, as a creative artist and as a small business owner. 

A few Slow Your Days tips ::

~ When you have a baby or small children, don't fight the hard days. Give in to those days where they just need endless cuddles and lots of hands on active play. Pack away the jobs list, cause it ain't going to get done anyway, and you'll just end up feeling frustrated. Get down on their level, and play - really play with them.

~ Go for a walk. Oh golly - this solves most any problem and hard day in our home. If baby won't sleep, or kids feel frustrated or I'm wound up I gather everyone up and out we go. It doesn't matter if you live in the forest or the city or near the beach. Just getting outside of your normal routine, slowing down and observing whats around you will help. Holding hands with little children, talking with them and noticing the things they show you. A half an hour walk will bring a feeling of fresh air and joy back into your home and help calm the crazy hour. 

~ A happy, well entertained baby will (theoretically, hopefully) sleep better. Spending time with little one should result in a decent nap which gives you quiet time for your own creative space or jobs list. 

~ Ask for help. With older kids, I think it's totally acceptable to expect them to contribute in a real way in the home. If you're working full or part time, and tending small children, running a business and trying to find time for your creative outlet - there isn't much time left for you and those beautiful cups of tea. Talk with the big kids about doing daily jobs - washing up, clearing the table, hanging washing,  folding clothes, those every day jobs that the mamas tend to mostly end up doing. I think of it as training my kids for when they leave home. If I don't have to wash up every day, it gives me more time to spend doing other things, which in the end gives me more time to be with them. 
This one isn't easy - it's hard. Some days it's simpler to just do the job yourself; but in the end that won't help your kids learn. This is one of those ones that takes time, build it up slowly…. understand that some days you'll have to re-do their job, or they'll take four times longer than you, or you'll just have to do it on your own. 

You will discover slowly, step by step, that you're finding moments to slip outside and breathe the evening air, or five minutes to sip your cup of tea while it's still warm. Those two things bring me more peace and calm, which carries through my whole day, than anything else. If you can manage a half hour yoga session yay for you. But five minutes with a cup of tea and the birds calling, and my family respecting my peace, me as a person - that slows my day immensely.

I'd love to hear your tips for slowing time, or finding time, making time….

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A garden bouquet ~ from my natural dye diaries

A short while ago, my girl and I gathered some of the pretty blooms from around our garden. We rolled it all up into a bundle roll with fabric, and set the dye pot to cook. 
There's a little how to story over here, if you want to have a look and make your own special piece of garden-gathered fabric. Each time you dye in this special manner, you get different results, depending on the flowers, leaves and seedpods. 

For those of you looking for my how to dye with Turmeric, it's here! You can also look at all my Natural Dye post archives.

I also have a Natural & Botanical Dye workshop coming up really soon. If you live in or near Newcastle, NSW and would love to spend a day learning about how to extract colours from the dye pot, then I hope you can come along. Sunday 20th September. Held in a beautiful florist studio - we will have all sorts of amazing blooms to dye with. All the details and booking info are over on my website here. (There's only a few spaces left). 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A little honey ....

There's colds and coughs here at the moment. And rainy coolish days. Perfect weather for gathering lemons from our trees, lemongrass from my friends garden and raw honey and organic ginger from the farmers market.
A remedy my mama used to make for us to nourish our bodies and warm our hearts. Holding a cup of warm lemon, honey & ginger is almost like a hug.

{a recipe} 
You'll need:
•fresh lemons, any sort will do. At least 1 per person or more if you like it tangy.
•honey, about 1-2 teaspoons each. Please use raw and local honey - it's better for your body as it still contains all the real nutrients (not stripped bare like from the supermarket), and supports a local farmer and his bees.
•a small knob of fresh ginger.
•some fresh or dried lemongrass (optional).
Squeeze the lemon into a cup, smash the ginger to release the flavour and add along with the cut lemongrass. Pour over not-quite boiling water and add honey to taste.
Cosy up with your favourite handknit or crochet blankie and snuggles with your little ones.
*i love using my Made by Fressko flask, which keeps my tea warm for hours. I have a giveaway of one of these on myInstagram account at the moment - if you wanna pop over and check it out! 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

wants & living simply :: a manifesto for 2015

I've decided to start this new year with a manifesto. Not so much a resolution, but perhaps a way of living and thinking about our footprint on this planet and our daily actions in a different way. Of not guilting ourselves, but giving ourselves a way of re-thinking how we want to live. Of choosing at each moment what we want, how we want, why we want. 

I find new year's resolutions for me bring about a guilt that I never keep them, that I've let myself down by barely lasting a month or even a week in some cases. I'm hoping this manifesto can help with my ideal of how I wish we could/would live, but also be an easier way for our whole family to be part of it. Often these ideals are pushed by one member of the family (me!) and the others don't really want to go along with it.

So.... here it is. My new year manifesto ::

If we want it, we should question our want
If we do still want it, we should make it
If we can't make it, we should get it second hand
If we can't find it second hand, we should buy it ethically
If no one makes it in an ethical manner, we should re-think our want
Only after this shall we consider any other options. 

I do hope that this is a good way for all the family members to live with our consumerism, want want want. To re-think how we fit within society - to re-think if our wants are based on other people's wants, or if they really are more of a need. To retrain ourselves to work out that often our wants don't fulfil what we think they will, that just as often we actually feel remorse or disappointment, after our wants are purchased. 

I also know that this is a journey we have be on for a long time. Compared to how many many others live, we do not give in to wants and whims and consumerism. My kids are always telling me 'it's not fair, everyone else has one'..... Well, my reply is we aren't everyone else. We don't go shopping for the sake of it, we don't buy new toys or books or clothes or anything just because. We do still consume, we get things that we don't necessarily need, but my hope is that we can live this year a little less and then next year a little less.

I am going to be practical in this way of being, not enforcing this in every instance of our lives. Also, I need to be aware that there will be things we need to buy that are wants. Within our business we have purchases of new items - these are necessary for our business, for our livelihood (and I may talk about this at a later stage). Our house-building will have new-purchase needs as well. 

But, hopefully this manifesto can help us all - the children and the adults - to live a happier life with less, to want less. To actively choose to want less, rather than feeling deprived on less. That's the ultimate - to stop the wants. To change the wants. To want less, to live with less, to live on less. 

I'll be sharing this journey here this year, and on my instagram feed as well. I aim / hope to be more present here on my blog. By sharing my story and ideas with you - perhaps you'll follow along. I do hope so, even just a little. 

I'm keen to hear your thoughts on new year resolutions, on manifestos, on consumerism, on wants and wants..... 

{Hi Amy - who asked when I was coming back! Hopefully now. xxx}

Monday, 13 October 2014

of weaving my own path

Yesterday I finished a little weaving on a tiny loom that Sam made for some workshops I did last year. There were a few looms left over and I brought three inside with a basket of yarn for the kids and me to work on as we wanted. 

I started the weaving well, and contentedly. But then after a short while I started to feel like I didn't know what I was doing, or more to the point that I wasn't doing it right. I pushed the weaving aside to look at Instagram and see the other people on there who I follow who do quite stunning and amazing weaving artworks. I looked and looked and felt a whole lot inadequate. 

I haven't been taught how to weave, aside from as a child by my mother and at school. I haven't done any workshops or online tutorials. Or even looked at a how-to book on weaving. The weaving making that I do is fairly innate and self-taught. The memory of under-over-under-over. But the knowing of any other special stitches or how to make the exact right way of setting up or finishing or adding embellishments. All of that is unknown to me. Unknown except for what my brain tells me might be the right way. 

I sat with this feeling of not knowing, and being wrong for only a short amount of time. I pulled my weaving back in front of me. With my selection of colours and yarns I told myself that the very first humans to ever weave and make cloth or fibre of any sort didn't have a teacher except their mother or father, and didn't have a book or a fancy workshop. They had their materials and their human innate understanding of maybe how something could work. They didn't know if it would work or not, but they kept on trying until it did. And they kept on listening to their own thoughts and intelligence. 

The weaving I have made I am not sure if it would be classified as art or craft or design or simply over-under-over-under of yarn through yarn. But what I do know is that when I made it (and I make more, not just weaving but other makings) I felt good and like I was following - making - my own journey and not following someone else's journey or rules or pathway. And when I look at this weaving I see a piece that talked to the maker and the maker talked to it. A conversation and communication between hands, mind, soul and materials. 

This, I realised, is the best way for me to create. To make with my own inner guidance, to use my understanding of how things work and not have to follow. I don't have to lead either. I just have to happily meander along my own path. 

I have entitled this weaving 'she whispered in my ear'.

*this piece was written some many months ago, sitting in my drafts - for some reason never published. I like adding it to my story now - as since this piece I have found my own direction and non-path path for weaving. I have learnt new stitches, I have taught other people how to discover their own weaving styles. I have talked, conversed, listened to my materials and time and time again been delighted in the tales we tell each other, in the stories we create together..... the yarns we weave. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

skinmade {beautiful natural skincare - an interview & discount code}

A short while ago I was introduced, via Instagram, to a beautiful and local-to-me skin care small business, Skinmade. I've been loving using their organic and natural products each day. These are products made with thought, intention, care and a commitment to bettering the environment as well our skin. The simple packaging appeals to me - I don't need (or want) excess packaging or gimiky products, I prefer to use products that have pure simple ingredients and are easy to add to my daily routine. 

My boy has also been using the oat & lemon myrtle scrub, which you combine with the castile & lemongrass cleanser to create a gentle yet very effective and lovely to use face cleaner. His skin (and mine as well) looks and feels so soft afterwards. I can't decide which moisturiser I like best - I'm using the rosehip & cucumber serum for refreshing daytime use, and the vitamin E & balsam as a night time cream. Both are nice and rich, yet not heavy - which is perfect for the coming Summer. 

When I was younger a friend of my mum's started a skincare range, and my sister and I helped her sell it. We learnt a little about the products and the ingredients, and got to enjoy using beautifully made natural skincare. Finding Skinmade has been a wonderful way for me to use something that fits within my lifestyle and environmental ethics, while supporting a local business as well. It's important to do each little thing we can in our regular purchases to make differences in our environment, our economy and our personal welfare. Choosing a skincare company who doesn't test on animals, uses organic and local ingredients and makes a conscious decision to support the environment in their manufacture and packaging is an easy way to make such a change. Next time you go to the department store to purchase your new moisturiser and a million cleansers and such, have a think about the what you are actually putting on your skin, where and how it's made, and what happens with the excess packaging afterwards (Skinmade has a fabulous program where you can return your glass bottles for reuse - just another way they are actively committed to environmental consciousness).

I asked Claire and Genevieve to share a little about their beautiful products and their business. They've also shared a 25% discount code (find it at the end of the questions) so that you can try out their range yourself - you'll find their products very reasonable before the discount, so this is an added incentive! And make sure you add one of their super soft bamboo facecloths to your order.

Why did you start Skinmade?  

After having children it really opened our eyes to what we were using on our skin - especially our babies skin. (Did you know that a leading brand of baby oil has only two ingredients: mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil coats your skin like glad wrap so it can’t release toxins. It also interferes with the skin’s natural immunity barrier. And unspecified fragrance is usually synthetic which can cause major skin irritation and even cause dizziness. It horrifies me to think we lather this on our new born babies).
So we started Skinmade - making up our own plant-based oil blends using recipes passed down from our mother in-law. We felt like there was a gap in the market for affordable, good quality, plant-based skincare. There is no shortage on the market, but most if it is very expensive.
What makes it special?  
We use really good quality, mostly organic, plant-based ingredients, subtle earthy scents - nothing overpowering and we keep our products as simple as possible. They feel really clean and light on the skin so they can be used by the whole family.
What's your favourite product and why? 
Claire: I have fair, dry skin so my favourite product is the Vitamin E + Balsam cream. Sometimes when I run out(yes that sounds crazy as I am the maker) I will use pure rose hip oil until I make a new batch. When I get finally get my hands on a new jar my skin feels so supple and nourished.
Genevieve: My favorite product is the castile and lemongrass CLEANSER.  I have normal kind of skin that can get a bit oily at times.  This cleanser feels so nice and gentle and the smell of it is very fresh and light.  I use it with an organic bamboo face cloth and the scrub.  It was very hard to formulate this product as there is nothing natural that foams, except organic liquid castile soap, which is what makes this cleanser so special. 
Tell us a little about the making process, and what you love about the ingredients you use. 
We spent a lot of time with a local naturopath learning about oils and herbs, and perfecting emulsification etc. I think for both of us two of the most exciting parts of making skincare is seeing the cream emulsify. It really is amazing. And secondly when we come up with new essential oil blends.
Our first priority is to make a product that is 100% natural, second is to make a product that is nourishing, healing, and rejuvenating. Affordability to our customers is really important to us, so you won’t see us using exotic ingredients such as gemstone crystals from brazil, caviar or snake venom. Instead we use the highest quality ingredients that are more sustainable and readily availablesuch as jojoba, rose hip, essential oils, shea/coco butter, vitamin e and aloe vera. We source organic and local where possible.
How do you work together - what are your roles in your partnership? 
We mostly do everything together. At the moment Genevieve is pregnant so Claire has taken over making the product and Genevieve looks after ordering, shipping, online enquiries etc. I think we really compliment each other in our business partnership. We both bring unique skills and ideas to skinmade, and when one is having a busy week with family or work commitments the other steps in and picks up the slack. We have a good laugh when we are together.
What are the challenges of having a small handcrafted skin care business?
We both have busy families and work part time, so it is often a challenge to find time.  One of our biggest challenges is getting skinmade out there.  Once people try it, they love our products for life, so we are constantly thinking up ways to promote the brand and reach as many people as possible.
Skinmade has been around for just over a year now, how are things going? What are your plans for the future of your business?
We are booking lots of markets for the end of 2014 and next year, plus deciding which trade shows to exhibit at. We have a feature in the Etsy Christmas gift ideas, which will give us lots of exposure. We hope to grow the skincare range to cater for more skin types and also develop a range of natural remedies for children such as a breath easyessential oil mix, chest rub, natural insect repellant and, head lice repellant. We are very committed to minimizing waste and are working behind the scenes on developing 100% compostable packaging. Our beautiful skin tea range comes in 100% compostable containers, so we aim to extend this across the range.
What's the 'secret' to beautiful skin, in your opinion?
Never believe the marketing ploys from commercial skincare brands about getting rid of your wrinkles or making your pimples disappear over night. The secret to beautiful skin extends well beyond what you put on it. Firstly HEALTH. Good health including diet and exercise… Secondly HAPPINESS. Balance in your life and finding happiness and mental strength. These are the building blocks for beautiful skin. Finally skincare. Your skincare should always be plant-based with no harsh chemicals. It should leave your skin feeling clean and nourished. It should basically be edible.
Why is local and handcrafted so important to you, personally and for your business? Can you share with us some other local makers who's work you love? 
Buying local is reducing environmental impact, creating more local jobs, investing in the community, buying something unique and encouraging local prosperity. But most of all you are buying something from a real person who has made the item with love. 
We have a huge crush on handmade pottery at the moment such as thrownbyjo, Harvest Clay, Susan Simonini, Kanimbla Clay.
We are loving the vege died clothing range from Vege Threads and the up cycled kids range from Alfie Children’s Apparel.
We get weekly veggie boxes from Farmer Foster (Murwillumbah) and make food for our kids from Jude Blereau whole food cookbooks. 
We are saving up for some recycled furniture from Simply Recycled Furniture

Anything else you'd like to add, please share ~
We would love for you readers to have the chance to try our skincare. Use the code: petalplum to receive 25% off Skinmade.
You can follow Skinmade on Instagram here
Check out the website, and make sure you read the blog with some really interesting (and scary) info about beauty products and ingredients.
Connect with Skinmade on Facebook.
*all images by me, except b&w one of Claire and Genevieve from their website.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Coconut Cake - an excuse for pretty flowers and styling {a recipe}

Cake solves lots of problems, don't you think. You know, not massive world issue problems, but those tiny at home daily challenges problems.

The making of a cake, for me, is such a restorative process (mostly). I love thinking about the cake I'll make, and gathering the ingredients  - seeing if we have the right things, or making do with what we do have instead. I love the preparation - getting the butter and eggs out. And then thinking about the sharing of the cake - that's the lovely part. Sitting down together and cutting into a cake. 
So - cake is good. Yes?
I wanted to share a current go-to cake, with you. It's easy to make, quite healthy, very delicious and ever so pretty when you want to pretty it all up. (Those of you who read this blog know that I don't often use a recipe - but there are times I need to know a cake will work with no issues and this one ticks so many boxes in terms of look, taste, ease of making and fairly healthy).

Coconut Cake with (coconut) Cream 
 6 fresh free-range eggs, separated
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup plain flour (I use spelt or whatever you want)
2 pinches baking powder
2 cups shredded coconut or 1 cup shredded + 1 cup dessicated.
180g butter, melted (I always use salted butter in my cake cooking - it adds that little speck of salt)

For cream ganache / filling
1-2 can of coconut cream - place in the fridge for 24hours before ready to use
2-4T coconut sugar (the coconut sugar will turn your cream a beautiful golden colour)

How to:
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 16cm spring form cake tin.

Using an electric beater, mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and sugar until thick.

Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the yolks, with a third of the sifted flour. Repeat until all mixed together, then gently add the coconut and melted butter and fold through until just combined. It's ok if some of egg white can still be seen.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40mins  until golden and pulling away from the sides. Leave to cool and then remove from the tin. 

For the coconut cream ganache - Place one can of the cooled cream and 2T of the coconut sugar into bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. One can is enough for one layer of cake filling. 

To ice cake - slice cake horizontally into either 2 or 3 pieces, through the middle. Spread the coconut cream filling over each layer and carefully place them on top of each other. You can leave the top naked or cream it as well. This is the fun part - so I'll leave it up to you to decorate as you like. Toasted or large flakes of fresh coconut on the top is lovely too. 
Decorate with non-toxic or edible flowers. Please be sure you check that the flowers aren't poisonous before serving to your guests!
You can make as many layers as you like - make 2 cakes to make a giant cake stack of 6 layers!

Coconut cream is more of an 'adult' taste, so you can just as easily use regular whipped (cows) cream. You shouldn't need sugar with this as it's sweet enough on it's own. We like whipping it in a jar - shakey shakey. Fun and easy.
{I have started using a 16cm cake tin, instead of my usual 22cm as it makes a smaller but taller cake. I'm loving the tall cake layers at the moment, but not needing the giant 22cm size cake for smaller gatherings or family nibbles. This recipe is suitable for a 22cm cake tin - it makes two well-sized layers}.

*Recipe is adapted from "Coming Home" by Kathy Armstrong.
*Photos of pansy-topped cake are taken by Leah from Sang the Bird at my weaving workshop gathering. The cut-pansy cake photo is by me. Other photos are by me, at my daughter's 7th birthday party earlier this year. 
Pansy-topped cake has coconut cream and 16cm tin used. 
Zinnia-topped cake has regular cream and 2x 22cm tin used.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Get your Weave on - workshops in weaving (and finding your own creative voice)

I've long wanted to do some weaving workshops with adults, to share my own way of working with yarn and making pretty wall hangings and pieces of art. I've finally found someone who makes looms in Australia that I can share with you.

Weaving is just the teensiest bit addictive; I've actually been dreaming about new weaves and wanting to get up at mid-night to finish the current piece on my loom..... The house can stay messy for all I can. I guess I'll have to eventually feed the family - though they're pretty good at making do themselves.

Anyway. I'd love to share the fun and complete satisfaction that comes with making your own weaving. It's like making your own piece of amazingness. Yep - it's that cool!

I have a couple of workshops coming up really soon (before this baby pops!). Would love love you to come along if you can. To learn the basic skills and techniques and to spend time with me and hopefully soak up some of how I work - by breaking rules, making my own rules, experimenting, having fun, conversing with my materials...

Oh yes indeed. I do have conversations with my yarn and fabric. Sometimes they tell me they want to be just so and I really have to listen. I do think it takes practice and quiet and being fully involved in your work to listen to your materials. But when you do, when you discover how to, I think it brings an emotion and a uniqueness to your work. It brings yourself to your work. Not copying someone else's stitches and patterns and ways of doing things, but doing it your own way. Telling your own story. Allowing your own voice to shine. 

That's important. I hope that during all my workshops (be in children or adults, screen printing or weaving or sewing or....) I can help you to open up and find your own inner voice. To allow you - give you permission indeed - to shout your own creative visual voice. That's so important to me. That we all share our voices, that we all feel confident that we can share our voice, and not hide behind copying someone else, or worse still not making and creating because we don't think our voice is valid. 

Part weaving workshop / part find your creative visual voice workshop. Yep.

Details are: Get Your Weave On!
Brisbane - Saturday 20th Sept, 12.30 - 4pm. At Tangled Yarns in Newstead. 
Byron Bay - Saturday 27th Sept, 10am - 1.30pm. At Bubbles at the Head Studio in Byron Bay. 
Cost is: $145 for 3.5hr workshop. You go home with your own new weaving loom + accessories (those lovely wooden needles), instruction booklet, scissors and yarns. You'll have a beautiful day with new friends (or bring a friend along to weave together), nibbling cake and treats and creating an amazing special piece to take home. 
Bookings are essential as spots are very limited. Bookings through our online store. Click here. Or email me for more info if you want. ( 
I'm also open to private classes if you'd like to gather some friends and have a weaving workshop at home.
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