Finding my crafting mojo

Having been sick with cancer and the corresponding fatigue that comes and goes after that, really sapped my energy, brain cells and motivation.

I had tried to pick up my crocheting but I am just too tired to concentrate on learning something new at the moment. (I have yet to pick up how to join the squares.

The original Olafs: You can see the 'recycled' sock was used on the larger Olaf.

I've reconnected with Lindy, my crafty friend, I think I have started up again. I just love seeing something come to life from one medium to another whether it be a tangled ball of yarn turning into something beautiful or socks and a few bits and bobs turn into sock snowman.

I really needed to get back into the swing of crafting regularly.

It really started with one of my grand daughters needing the Olaf  repaired, that I made for her last Christmas when we were in Tasmania. I was foolish enough to recycle an old odd sock the first time but with time, the material was beyond repair so I had to make a duplicate.

Olaf all fixed

I mentioned this to my friend Lindy. She had never seen even a sock snowman, so I offered to show her how to make one. I had left the materials out on the table with the hope that seeing it there would motivate me to make some more since I had bought lots of socks on special earlier in the year for this express purpose.

Lindy & I had such a grand time making a couple of sock snowmen that we have decided to recommenced our weekly crafty afternoons. At least this way we will make some thing weekly as well as have a good old chin wag.

Here are the 2 Olafs with their cousins!

Come back and see what we will make over the coming weeks and months!

Cheese stuffed meatballs in easy tomato sauce

Such a simple easy dinner that comes together with very few ingredients. It is unbelievably tasty and it is one of our family's favourite dinners and I love it too as it is so quick to make. Our family actually just call it cheesy meatballs.


½ cup rice
90g processed cheddar cheese*, cut into 1cm cubes
425g tomato soup
½ cup water
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
500g mince
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
salt & pepper

  1. Precook rice in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes in microwave. Strain, rinse in cold water, set aside to dry as much as possible before using.
  2. Combine soup, Worcestershire sauce and water in baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Cut cheese into 10 – 12 cubes. Set aside.
  4. Combine rest except cheese including drained rice.
  5. Form into 10 –12 meatballs.
  6. Add 1 cheese cube into centre of each ball, enclose cheese thoroughly
  7. Place meatballs into soup mix.
  8. Cover dish with lid, alfoil or baking tray
  9. Bake @ 180o C for 1 hour (350o F)
Serve with mash potatoes, spaghetti or steamed rice


* The cheddar cheese is the long life type as shown below. It is such as what cheese sticks are made of, only we can buy it in blocks off the shelf near the preserves/jam and vegemite section in Australia. Mozzarella might be substituted instead. Regular cheddar cheese can be used but you'll find it has a habit of melting INTO the meatball rather than remaining as a lovely blob of molten cheese.
If you wish to cook this recipe in a thermal cooker such as a DreamPot or a slow cooker then fry the meatballs after forming so that the balls maintain their shape.

Granny Squares - Many squares needed

Wow! So many granny squares are needed for a single blanket.  You might remember that I taught myself how to crochet on the last big trip in 2012 in the caravan starting with these tiny christmas stockings.

Picking a colour theme

The colours of these granny squares were chosen to match the caravan.  However, it has has taken much longer than expected and getting sick with cancer in the meantime didn't help. I just had no energy or brain power for most creative pursuits for more than 18 months. Anyway it was a project that got left on the back burner for so long. We are now selling our beloved caravan and it is not quite the colours I envisioned for our converted bus/motorhome that Rob started even before I got sick.

Crocheting outside my caravan on a trip

Resuming crocheting

Lately I have resumed the project especially as it was an easy project to do at night keep the hubby company whilst he watch TV and I sorted of watched TV and crochet at the same time. One thing I love about crocheting is that it is easy to do in dribs and drabs as my attention span tends fluctuate at times. I know many of you can crochet and watch tele easily but being profoundly deaf and reliant on captioning, I can't effectively do both... but there's always lots of ads and if the show is boring I can concentrate more on my craft. There's always 2 sides to a coin.

The next step

Well now I think I've reached the point where I'm ready to start joining them altogether. I have made 100 squares in burgundy, pink, hunter green and soft green.I haven't done this before as all my previous crocheting have just been one giant granny square. I know I can whip stitch them, but I am going to trial a few crochet joins and see what I end up with. I have already decided against one method as it looked too untidy and uneven.

The type of join I decide with also affect the end size of the blanket. I wonder just what size it will end up being. It has now grown from being a lap rug in the caravan a few years ago when I started it to being one I hope will fit across the bed in the motorhome. I'd love to know how people work out how much wool to buy without buying too much but certainly no one wants to run out of wool so close to the end either!

Too many UFO's

Like many of us crafts people, I've got a huge list of UFOs. (Un Finished Objects)  However I am starting to tick them off bit by bit.  If only I would stop starting yet another project.

My next project

I can't wait to show you what I made for my grand daughters' last birthdays. I am very happy with them. So pop on back in a few weeks and see what it is. Here's a teaser! I have sewn it and they will be able to play with it!

A teaser of what I made for my grand daughters!

A reminder of my cute little Christmas Stockings I made back in 2012.

Just one of my Christmas Stockings

Decedent Chocolate Fudge

I came home from a trip to Tasmania having one cooking ambition and that was to find a simple but perfect chocolate fudge recipe. It took a couple of experiments but this version adapted from Repeat Crafter Me is the closest one to the perfect fudge that I fell in love with at Chudleigh, Tasmania. I wanted to make it quickly and yet ensure that it is silky smooth. I hit the jackpot with this combination. Try it. I am so convinced that you will love it too.



680g (2 bags) milk chocolate chips
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the chocolate, condensed milk, vanilla and butter in a microwave safe bowl & microwave for 2 minutes stirring once or twice, then zap in 15 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Be careful not to let it seize. Allow it to cool a bit (30 minutes) and then beat until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened about 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully pour the mixture into a lightly greased tart lined with non-stick baking paper and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
  3. Set aside until set . A couple of hours at least, overnight if possible.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the fudge into 4cm squares and wrap each piece in non-stick baking paper. Makes 16 squares


Do you want to try different flavuors? Use different flavoured chocolate chips.
Or when you pour your fudge into the pan, first add a layer of candy or cookies
Try some sieved rasbpberry couli!
There are lots of different ways to add to this recipe!


My 1st attempt: I first tried it in the slow cooker: as per repeat crafter me. The original recipe calls for 30 minutes in the slow cooker, mine had been going for 60 minutes and there was still tiny blobs of un-melted chocolate about the size of a pearl head on a pin or smaller. I was scared of it over cooking and took it out at this point. It was still delicious and had a little texture of minute chocolate bits in it which didn't detract from the fudge as a whole. Beaut flavour.
My 2nd attempt: I decided to use the microwave and beaters as per above instructions. I used 100% milk chocolate. Beautiful texture - so smooth though I tried to 'pretty' the top and thus I disturbed the crusty skin so it didn't look as good.
Next time I want to try 50:50 dark:milk chocolate with or without some Raspberry couli

What flavours would you want in your fudge? One son wants caramel fudge and another says his wife adds crumbled honeycomb to hers and he loves it.

Some simple handmade cards

I have so many card making supplies left over from when I was teaching and publishing cards. I found I had lost a lot of motivation with being sick for months after the cancer diagnosis and then travelling in our RV when I was up and about at last.

Twisted Easel Card and co-ordinating envelope

Eventually I had to try and sort out my craft supplies and found I have so many half made cards and many beautiful background papers that I have made using various techniques. Both of these will make it very quick to make a bundle of cards in next to no time at all. As much as I generally prefer to make flowers and three dimensional cards, sometimes, it is just not practical nor appropriate. I will be looking for some charities to gift these cards to as I have far to many for my own needs and gifts and I doubt I will hold any more markets stalls in the future but certainly not any time soon.

Twisted easel card 'flat' for posting

So take a gander and see the variety that is possible even with simple quick cards especially once the background papers have been made. Feel free to ask any questions re techniques.

background is paint dry brushed with embossing powder effects

Lavender layer is from the side of a tissue box. "Love" is stamped under the vellum

Multiple stamped background on fabric dyed coloured card

Simple ripped card for a distressed effect

Pretty scrapbooking papers make cards very quick to do. I love my cuttlebug for dry embossed backgrounds too!

White Chocolate Mud Cake with Raspberry Coulis Swirl - the ultimate Wedding Cake & Recipe

This special cake is so delicious. It is extremely moist and very almost melts in your mouth and that swirl of raspberry coulis through it, is just inspirational. Here are the promised recipes: the white chocolate mud cake, the raspberry coulis as well as the lemon buttercream that we use for incing the cake. I have given the recipe for a regular size cake. For  Camille's wedding cake, the final quantity was six times this recipe in the end! I've given the quantity for a 8 inch cake.

Camille's wedding cake


adapted from Nigella's recipe


250g chopped butter
450g caster sugar
150g chopped white chocolate
1 cup milk
225g plain flour
85g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 lightly beaten eggs

Camille helping me make the trial version


Line base and sides cake tin with baking paper.
Combine butter & sugar in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolved. Do NOT boil.
Add chocolate and keep stirring until melted.
Add milk and mix together.
Set aside to cool. (I found that takes quite a bit of time - like an hour or two.)

Now turn your oven on 170oC.
Back to the mixture: Add flours slowly, mixing continuously.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Pour mixture into your prepared 200mm cake tin. If you are adding coulis as I did, then do that at this point and swirl around through the cake mix with a knife edge
Cover the tin with foil.

Bake for  2 hours.

Cake just out of the oven


  • If you make extra quantities may these size tins and associated baking times be a guide to you. Each oven may differ so watch your cake carefully.
  • Bake 130mm size cake for minimum 1 3/4 hour. - takes approx half the recipe
  • Bake 300mm size cake for minimum 2 3/4 hour - takes approx double the recipe
  • I found the use of wet Bake Even Strips which are basically insulator strips around cakes helped prevent over cooked edges which is especially helpful with such long cooking times. (It definitely also increases the cooking time needed.) You could use a towel wrapped around the tin. It doesn't need to be dripping wet, but it needs to be quite wet. 

You can just see the Bake Even strip on this tin and in the back left corner


250g frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup sugar.

Heat the sugar & water in a saucepan on the hotplate stirring from time to time, until the sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes
Add the raspberries. It is quicker if the raspberries are defrosted but it is not necessary for success.
Give it a quick whizz in a blender to break up the larger pieces of fruit & puree it. For this cake I didn't sieve the sauce to remove the seeds - I like the seeds!
Swirl tablespoonfuls through cake mix before baking, ensuring that the coulis doesn't come too close to the edge of the cake as it makes it harder to ice afterwards.
The sauce keeps well, covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and freezes perfectly for several months. Raspberry coulis is the red sauce that chefs often use to decorate your dessert plate with either with swirls or a brush of sauce across the plate.
Any left over sauce is easily used in a multitude of applications: drizzle it on breakfast foods like oatmeal, granola, yogurt or pancakes. Spoon it into your smoothies. Add it to the top of a bowl of ice cream. Also makes a terrific dipping sauce for sliced fruit.

Do not add coulis too close to the edges of the cake as shown


125g copha
125g butter * See note
500g icing sugar sifted (powdered sugar)
4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Melt Cohpa in microwave until just soft and cool. Add room temperature or soft butter to the copha which you've allowed to cool and whip together until well blended.
Add  about a quarter of the sifted icing sugar gradually and blend into the butter mix.
Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Mix just enough to blend. Keep alternating more sugar and juice.  Ideally you want the buttercream to be the consistency of heavy whipped cream where it holds it's shape without collapsing. You can add more icing if it is too runny or more juice as desired.

If a decorative finish required then you especially need to crumb coat your cake first. This is where you apply a thin coating of buttercream over all the cake. Do not worry too much about crumbs spoiling the look, as this gets covered later with a second coating of buttercream after the crumb coating has had time to dry a little and harden. Spread the buttercream thickly over cake preferably using a palette knife.

Cakes wrapped awaiting the crumb coating.

Approx. quantities needed for icing a cake

130mm (5 inch) cake: 225g buttercream
200mm (8 inch) cake: 600g buttercream
300mm (12 inch) cake: 1.5kg buttercream

I made some thing close to 5kg buttercream with leftovers which I took to the wedding reception for touch ups if needed!


*If whiteness is not important to you, then double the butter and forego the copha. I really didn't notice a drop in flavour when it was half and half.


Trial Cake: Maybe you can see how yellow the buttercream was before the copha adaption!


Gluten Free Cake

It is easy to make this gluten free with the appropriate GF flours. My middle tier was Gluten Free as we had several guests that required GF if they were to join us in celebrating with cake. All my icings are done with Pure Icing Sugar (powdered sugar). Also each layer was physically separated by a cake board which not only ensured lack of contamination but also help support the various layers!


Did you know that most cakes freeze well when iced with buttercream especially if you follow these suggestions!
  1. Wrap with plastic cling wrap after it is frozen.
  2. Defrost cake completely wrapped so as no moisture escapes.
  3. Defrost cake naturally overnight.

Make in advance & storage:

Buttercream icing can be made as much as a week in advance and it doesn't need to be kept in a fridge. You will however need to ensure it is airtight to stop the buttercream 'skin' from drying and crusting. I like to place a couple of layers of plastic cling wrap right down touching the buttercream as well as  sealing off the bowl or container.Once it is on the cake it will 'seal' the cake and stop the air from aging or drying the cake out. The buttercream itself will form a crust which is why I advise that you wrap the cake in plastic cling wrap after this crust forms or after freezing.

The happy bridal couple with their cake

Rustic Wedding Cake

I made my daughter’s wedding cake and used a lemon buttercream to ice it. I believe buttercream icing is both simple and delicious. I find it is so much tastier and the tartness of the lemon just offsets the sweetness of the icing just wonderfully without taking away from the cake itself.

The rustic wedding cake made for one of my daughters.

There was basically only 4 requirements from the bridal couple:
1/. White chocolate mud cake
2/. Raspberry coulis swirled through the cake
3/. Three tiered cake
4/. White butter cream icing in a rustic look.

My daughter seems to believe I can make anything, but cake decorating at the 'professional' level for a wedding was pushing me way out of my comfort zone. I haven't done much cake decorating over the years and certainly nothing close to a wedding cake level.
The bride helping me make the buttercream

We had a trial run. Each layer had homemade raspberry coulis swirled through just like any rainbow swirled cake mix.  I quickly realized that having the coulis come close to the edge when I swirled it, made the edges break away easily thus making it very difficult to cover with the buttercream, so that was my first lesson learnt. We then crumb coated the 3 layers.
The coulis is too close to the edges on the trial cake

We then layered the cakes on top of each other and put them on a lazy susan so we could practice the icing technique to try and achieve something close to the rustic look the bride found & liked on Bridal Musing Site.

Our inspiration

My trial cake looked nothing like the one above but when we scattered some strawberries I just happened to have in the fridge over the layers, it really made a huge difference. The bride was worried that it wasn't big enough, so we determined that the real wedding cake was going to have double layers on each tier!

The trial wedding cake

Since I am still having periodic bouts of fatigue so we experimented with freezing our trial cake after it had been iced, so that it could be done on one of my good days. I found that it defrosted without any deterioration in quality of the cake itself or the buttercream icing providing that it was wrapped in plastic cling wrap after it froze solid and kept it wrapped as it slowly defrosted overnight.

I start freaking out about how was I going to transport it over an hour away, without damaging it and how to decorate it. I decided to transport each tier separately and finish assembling at the reception venue. I didn't weigh it but I am sure it was at least 15kg collectively. It was jolly heavy that's for sure!

Thankfully my sister was willing to adorn the cake with beautiful red roses making this the gorgeously rustic yet romantic three tiered wedding cake it turned out to be.

Finishing the cake I am on the left and my sister on the right!

I will post the recipe in the next post in case anyone is interested to try it for themselves. It did take quite a bit of time both the baking and the assembling/icing. No wonder wedding cakes costs a packet but it is something many of us can do given a little time and practice! I can bake but believe me when I say I am not a cake decorator!

The bride and groom cut the cake

Super Easy Apple Cake

You wont believe just how easy this cake is to make and it is so moist & delicious it is almost sinful.

Ooops! Half of it was gone before I took the photo - it was THAT good!

This cake is so easy and no one is likely to know that it started with a boxed cake mix. Generally speaking I make my cakes from scratch, however this is so simple and quick and tastes great, that it may just become my go to cake more often. It is my cheat's take on an apple cake a friend's father used to make, who was a Dutch Pastry Chef!

Having a packet cake mix on hand is great for quick unexpected guests or if you rarely bake. You will have no excuses from now on not to have a 'homemade' cake when ever you feel like it and one that will impress your friends and your mother in law! ;)

Just add a egg and a little water to these ingredients and you have a great cake



1 packet butter cake mix
1 egg
1/3rd cup water
800g tinned apples
Cake ready to cook and with the left over apple in the bowl next to it.

  1. Preheat you oven 180C (350 F)
  2. Line your cake tin with baking paper. I used a square tin.
  3. Add cake mix, half the liquid and just one egg and half the and apple pie filling to your mixing bowl.
  4. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the cake mix into your prepared tin. I used a square tin.
  6. Top the cake batter with slices of apples and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes
  8. Test with toothpick in between apple slices.

It is lovely served warm with whipped cream for dessert or cold with a lovely cuppa.

It is half gone already!

* I did have some apple slices left over, which I just blended together with a good sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and heated it up to serve on the side with mashed potatoes at our next dinner for my husband. Appelmoes (Apple mousse) is a common Dutch custom to accompany grilled meats.

Enough is enough - life is good once again

That's it! I have had enough. These last 18 months have been terrible and I think I am finally through with all the crap that life can dish out. It's time to turn it around! I can say it again 'Life is great.'

In the last 18 months...
  • I've been so very, very sick...a rare form of cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. You can read part of my cancer journey starting here.
  • I've had numerous operations (7 in 14 months!)...some for the cancer and some for kidney stones.
  • I've been badly hurt by people & had some terrible personal challenges to work through...
  • As part of my recovery, my husband & I have recently spent 4 lovely months cruising Tasmania in a motorhome.
  • I've had to replace my laptop & thus had to learn a whole new interface (and at a time when my brain wasn't functioning the best).
  • My sewing machine died and needed replacing.
  • Life has made me too tired or dispirited to bother with the little things such as taking & editing photos and writing up my blog posts for a long time.

Oh well that's enough of the bad stuff. Let me say it again: Life is good once again.

I am sorry that I don't post on this blog more often, but I want this blog to be something I enjoy doing not something that I have to force myself to do and thus resent or feel that 'have' to sew or blog or what ever.

Gardening, crafting and traveling are stress relievers for me. As such they are things I love to do and thus if I don't want to sit down and write and such for what ever reason then that's just the way it is. I really do enjoy crafting and I enjoy blogging too. I would like to keep on 'liking' them rather than making it a chore. :)

So our good news?

Rob and I have enjoyed our 5 months leave traveling including 4 months in Tasmania, a little island off the south coast of Australia in our motorhome. You can follow our journeys in Tassie or any of the other places on a separate travel blog that I keep which also includes details of our bus to motorhome conversion.

We came home in time for our beautiful youngest daughter's wedding. She is getting married  to a lovely young man at the end of May and there's some things we wanted hand-made for their wedding.
I promise that I will go into more details with proper photos after the wedding as we don't want to spoil the surprises for anyone attending the wedding.

So far..
  • I have helped with the pop up portion of the wedding invitations.
  • I have cut & redesigned the wedding veil from my old wedding veil.
  • I have made the wedding cake.

Now I am currently working on the hair clips for the flower girls to match the comb part of the wedding veil.
Still to come are table centre pieces, flower girl baskets, wedding favours and maybe the cake boxes.

All these are being done in between general life and catching up with friends and family let alone 6 months worth of weeds. I swear the weeds grow faster than any plants! Grrr!

So thanks so much for stopping by my blog! It is great to be enjoying life again.
I am certainly blessed in so many ways, especially in my husband and my family.
I have so much to be thankful for.

I also love the little notes you guys leave me as well as it gives me a chance to get to know many of you via my blog, so leave me a comment if you will! 

Face the Music Card

I have the time to join in a card challenge again. The card theme on Simply Less is more this week is "Face the Music and Dance".

Not having any dance style stamps,  I have chosen to make a simple but dramatic black & gold card with just music as my theme.

I have aged the torn music sheet with coffee and used multiple layers of Ultra thick embossing enamel on some broken CD tiles as a anchoring point.

It is rather different to what I normally make, but hey it's good to stretch one self from time to time.