My Week in Pictures

My Week in Pictures

It’s been a busy week.  I haven’t had time to even think about blogging, let alone do it.  Plus, it’s been so hot and my little office where my computer lives is stifling and stuffy and ugh.  So I’ve spent as little time on the computer as possible.

I have been crafting though…I had to make some hot pink earrings for a friend at work but, as hot pink is not a colour I usually work with or like, I had difficulty finding anything in my bead stash to even start.  Which meant I had to go out and buy some more beads, of course.  I won’t show you what I made – I’m not at all happy with any of them.  It’s funny how colour choice affects your (or, at least, my) ability to make and create.  I like paler pinks – more shabby than shocking I guess.

I got them done as quickly as I could then moved on to other orders I had to complete…

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…I had a go with memory wire (and managed to stab myself in the thumb with it – blood everywhere!)…

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…my iron count has been a little low the last few months so I had to have an iron infusion
(look away now if you don’t like needles and hospital stuff…)…

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…I went for walks…(but not as often as I should have…)…

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…lots of bird watching…

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…baby swans!…

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I got some belated birthday gifts…including this gorgeous handbag from a friend of my Mum’s…(I don’t normally wear or use leather but as I didn’t buy it I guess it’s ok…plus it is so lovely and soft and stylish.  Sorry cows, I will still keep to my non-leather-buying values, but I’m keeping the bag…)…

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…and a lovely jewellery box from (drum roll please!) TIFFANY’S!!!…

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…the same lovely lady (my volunteer library assistant) gave me this beautiful gift AND  made me a take-home curry
to have for my dinner (Oh my God – so yum!).  She is too good to me…

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…my penal Rem’s partner Dianne sent me a lovely Valentine’s card…
(you should check out her blog if you haven’t already – it’s great!)

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…I discovered my new favourite sweet treat – frozen grapes!

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I also went op-shopping and bead shopping with my Mum and bought a ridiculous amount of beads.  I think I have a problem…

Now it’s Sunday evening yet again and soon I must pack up and get ready for bed.  I am trying to get to bed before 10pm these days because I am always so tired and can never get up in the morning.  I have a busy day tomorrow – lots of meetings and a three-hour “fire suppression” training (as I am supposedly a fire warden for my building).  I’m hoping the day goes quickly and that I manage to get some things done even though I will not be at my desk.  Every week I tell myself I am going to sort my desk out and get things in order, but I never have time or anywhere to put everything.  So I just try and make all the piles of stuff look tidy.  Moving them from one place to another helps, as does shuffling them, hiding them under the desk and shoving them in the filing cabinet marked “to deal with later”.

Have a great Monday everyone – hope you are more organised than me 🙂

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Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Aussies!  There are a few things going on in our country at the moment that make it somewhat hard to be enthusiastic about celebrating our nation (dodgy human rights “issues”, culling sharks, dreadful live export trade etc) so I won’t make a big deal about it except to say I love my country with all its faults.  I love the weather (despite it being blisteringly hot at the moment), the beaches, the wildlife, the laid-back attitude and the blue, blue skies.  No country is perfect – ours has its issues as much as any other nation – but all in all, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  Doesn’t mean I don’t shake my head in disbelief and shame at some of the decisions and policies made by the people in power, but I still love my country overall (even if I am a little embarrassed by it sometimes).

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That bit of patriotism over and done with, let us move on to topics far more interesting – crafting and op-shopping! Went op-shopping with my Mum yesterday morning and bought a few bracelets and necklaces full of lovely, lovely beads.  I hit the jackpot with a couple of large pieces that had LOADS of beads on them, enough to make quite a few things with, and in the colours I needed too (except for yellow – why oh why can I not get any yellow beads anywhere???):

Look at this amazing layered bracelet/cuff!  Only $2.00!  Such a bargain and the beautiful greens are such nice shades in a variety of styles and sizes…

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These wooden ones were also a great buy.  A nice earthy red colour – I will get plenty of use out of these little guys (not sure what I will do with the large “bits” but I will hang on to them anyway)…

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I am always on the lookout for turquoise of any description. These ones came from a big and bold chunky necklace.  They are resin I believe and not really a proper turquoise shade but still useable.  They look a bit like cartoonish volcanic rocks to me!…

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This purple/mauve necklace had lots of nice beads on it too, mostly glass – which I prefer – and with lovely detailing (love the little dimpled beads).  Purple is a popular colour and I can never have enough in my stash…

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I also picked up this strange item.  I think it might a charm from a handbag (?) but I couldn’t be sure.  The sales lady didn’t know either so she priced it as a bracelet ($2).  I thought I could get a lot of use out of the silver findings on it and even the black cord will be handy.  It didn’t look as though it had been “worn” or used at all.

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I also picked up a tiny bracelet made out of these cute little coral-coloured cube beads.

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So, what have I been making?  More jewellery…I am just not in the mood for anything else at the moment and kinda have to go where the money is (i.e. I am selling the jewellery and it is helping me financially quite a bit).  I sell a lot of cards too but they take such a long time to make and I am just too hot (and lazy) at the moment.  Apologies if you come here looking to see what new cards I’ve made…just isn’t happening at the moment!

Anyway, here are a few pieces that I made in the last couple of days – the first lot being very bright and colourful!  Love these colours together – very fiesta-inspired!

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These earrings are very Day-of-the-Dead inspired…

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These pretty glass earrings were made from a vintage necklace I bought a few weeks back in a 2nd hand store.

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This silver and turquoise pair will be popular with the ethnic/boho crowd…

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This ring is the finished product from the bracelet panels I featured in this post  It worked so well with the filagree ring blank I had..

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I made this silly little ring using a broken bead…it reminds me of a boiled sweet!

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I really like these earrings, mainly because of the gorgeous ceramic red beads – such a nice colour…

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This dainty pair is also nice – the silver and red works really well…

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I have lots of orders to complete and am currently procrastinating…it’s so hot and I’m tired (unfortunately my anaemia is kicking my butt at the moment and I have to have an iron infusion in the next week or so…).  Was supposed to be at a fireworks party tonight but have piked.  Anxiety playing up a bit currently and I am having to force myself to leave the house and socialise.  Just wasn’t up to a party tonight.  As a result, I am schlepping about at home in my PJs and am trying to get my house tidy (or, I would be if I wasn’t procrastinating about that too…).

I did actually go to a party yesterday – my nephew’s 5th birthday party.  He had a Superhero theme so lots of little Supermen, Spidermen, Ninja Turtles etc running around.  The kids were awesome – not a brat amongst them.  My sister-in-law did an AMAZING job of preparing food and making decorations in a superhero them.  Check out the “Kryptonite Krispies”:

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We also had an hilarious half hour when the kids were trying in vain to break the super-pinata – it was pretty strong.  It took older brother (Master 7) to give it the final bash which sent all the treats inside flying.  I actually helped make the piñata – I babysat my nephews and nieces last weekend and Miss 3 1/2 and Master 5 spent a good part of the afternoon putting the initial layers of paper macho onto a balloon – their concentration and dedication to the task at hand made me smile.  The final result (finished by their Super Mum) was pretty cool and very, very robust!

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Unfortunately, towards the late afternoon, my Mum became very ill and I had to take her home quickly.  Seems like she got over-heated.  I was pretty worried for a while there as she looked dreadful and was so sick.  But she is better today – just recovering and taking it easy.  It was so very hot and humid yesterday and easy for people to get heat stroke and dehydration, despite the fact she had been drinking plenty.  I sometimes forget that she is a “senior” now – I need to keep an eye on her more (even though she would laugh at that and tell me to get a life ha ha).

Well, this house will not clean itself and I should probably eat some lunch and bring in my laundry…or not.  I could just sit and play with beads.  That sounds much nicer 🙂

Baby, it’s HOT outside!

Baby, it’s HOT outside!

Phew!  It is hot.  I mean really hot.  So hot that even I am hot.  And I am never anything other than cold.  Right now I’m am sweating as I type this.  Sweating is gross and I am so not used to it.  Ew.  It’s still better than being cold, but it even so…ewwww…..

As a consequence of the heat wave that we are experiencing here in sunny Perth, I have been doing very little crafting.  Too hot.  Too sweaty.  All I want to do when I come home is sit on an air-conditioner and drink gallons of water.  And watch re-runs of 21 Jump Street (but that’s another story…I’m having a Peter De Luise thing at the moment).  My dining room table is covered in craft supplies (nothing new there) but I am not doing anything with them.  Not much anyway.  Every so often I fiddle about with a few beads but then get heat-cranky and can’t be bothered doing much more than that.

I have made one new bracelet this week (aside from a couple of orders I had to get done) and it is not very inspiring – I used all the same kind of bead for Heaven’s sake! :

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…it is light and cute for Summer I guess though.  The little wooden beads are very lightweight and sorta rustic looking (if you squint your eyes and imagine something rustic looking) and it was at least something.

Mostly I just shopped for things to make stuff with this week.  I went bead shopping.  Which is always dangerous.  I had to buy two huge bead boxes on the weekend because I was running out of storage.  I went to Galaxy Beads in Morley on Saturday.  I spent an hour in there and tried to choose carefully…but it is so hard because they have such lovely stuff and I get a bit bamboozled looking at it all.  I picked up some basic colours that I needed (red, orange and green ceramic and wooden beads) but still couldn’t find any yellow ceramic ones.  I am searching in vain for those it seems.  I got some lovely feature beads which I might keep to make things for myself…maybe.  I always say that and then sell or give away whatever I’ve made.  Until I get my ears pierced again it seems a waste to keep earrings for me and I don’t wear many bracelets except for my favourite silver bangle which I never take off.  But perhaps I will change that this year and become super colourful and blingy…

 

Anyway, check out some of the beads I got, starting with these gorgeous lavender, gold and silver ones – so pretty!Image

 

Next up, these oriental-looking ones – love the colours and the metallics and the tiny wee flower in blue:

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These little glass beads were so cute – I don’t know what I’m going to use them on but I had to get them…

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I LOVE these pale blue ones…they were pretty expensive but I just really liked them..

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These embellished lamp work beads were in a bargain bag but they’re really unusual colours…

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Licorice Allsorts! That’s what these ones remind me of.  They too were in a bargain bag which made them less than half price…

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So, it would be fair to say I left with a large dent in my purse…but not too large, I was careful and only bought what I thought I could use.  I was disappointed not to get the yellow beads I needed but I will keep looking.  I really, really need wooden animal beads but they are nowhere to be found.

I didn’t just buy beads – I was also given lots by other people this week.  My friend GK gave me these :

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They are panels from a bracelet, but I think they will make lovely rings.  I love the colours (especially the purple one) and I was really happy to be given these, as well as some bright wooden beads and some pretty glass ones.

While out shopping for card for my birthday invitations, I found these adhesive cabochon flowers in a stationery store:

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…they’re suppose to be for invitation decorations but who’d waste them on that?!  They would look much better on a nice ring…

…don’t you think?

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I also (whilst looking for 2nd hand jewellery) picked up this cute handbag in an op-shop.  $2.00!!! Crazy price.  It was a little bit grubby so I sponged it with some stain-removing laundry soaker and the marks came out.  Look at the lovely embroidery and beading on it!
(excuse my toes in the first shot…)

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So, a lot of shopping and not much crafting going on this week at all.  I will get back into it soon.  When the temperature drops below a bazillion degrees.  Until then, it’s just me in as little clothing as possible, lots of iced water, a fan and 80s cop shows.

Stay cool everybody 🙂

Words to Live by…

Words to Live by…

Good morning!  I am a good girl today – I got up nice and early and went for a walk while it was still cool and quiet.  We have had such a mild Christmas/New Year weather period, it doesn’t feel like Summer at all.  This morning was actually chilly when I got started which is so unusual for this time of year.  Normally it is blazing hot until at least March.

I snapped a few pictures as I walked through the neighbourhood and down to the foreshore.  Lots of pretty flowers and birds, no doubt enjoying the unseasonably cool weather.  I normally take my iPod with me and listen to music, but, as it and my phone were both charging, I took my camera instead.  The sky was pretty grey this morning – a chance of rain perhaps? – and the water on the river was still and glass-like.

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 I got into a bit of a meditative frame of mind (in other words, I was still a bit sleepy and just switched my brain off) and just enjoyed the gentle breeze and relative peace and quiet.  I am trying to be a bit more centred this year, calmer and less anxious and stressed.  I find it very hard to just stop thinking about everything.  So I am now trying to think about good things, instead of worrying, especially about things I cannot change.  I focused on the birds and the water and the city skyline and just breathed (or puffed, depending on how you look at it – I’m not very fit).  It made me think about the Desiderata.  Have you ever read it?

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When I was 12, our teacher’s assistant read out the Desiderata to us at our Year 7 graduation night.  I will always remember sitting there and listening to his voice as he read out those magical words.  As a 12-year-old I can’t say I took a lot of it in, but it has always stuck with me, somewhere in the back of my crowded brain, as words to live by.  I have given it to people as gifts and keep a copy with me.  This year I am going to try and live up to it and remember it’s words more often.  It doesn’t preach and it doesn’t claim to have all the answers.  It’s just perfect.

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If you’ve never read it before, please do now.  I think the world would be a nicer place if everyone knew and believed in these words.

Thank you Mr Rosling – you may not remember this little twelve-year-old girl, but she remembers you fondly and with love and gratitude.

x

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

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As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

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If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;

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for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

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Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

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But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

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Be yourself.

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Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

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Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

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You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

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Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

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With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

Have a wonderful day everyone.

Way Down Upon the Swan(ee) River…

Way Down Upon the Swan(ee) River…

Ah, Perth in the Summer time…well, almost Summer time.  It’s only November after all and we have a couple more weeks before Summer officially arrives, but the weather has been so warm (hallelujah!) and after-work walks have been the order of the day.  Or, at least, I’m trying to make them the order of at least three days a week, rather than just coming home every day and collapsing in a heap  on the couch.

I am very lucky to live so near to the Swan River.  A short walk away, I can stroll along the foreshore, watch the boats and swans and ducks and seagulls and, if I’m luckier still, the dolphins.  Everything seems better by the water.  Calmer and fresher and just better.  Plus I live at the top of a steep hill so the walk home always makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something (albeit with much wheezing and unattractive sweating).

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I love watching the black swans – they are so majestic yet, at times, comical, and even downright scary at other times (you do not want to get in the way of a Mother swan and her brood).  They are beautiful and they remind me of my dear geese that I miss so much now I do not live in the country.  My retirement dream, so far flung in to the future, is to have a little cottage on the coast with enough room for me and my menagerie which will, of course, include a gaggle of geese.  Who will chase everyone except for me.  As it should be.

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Sorry – the water looks kinda gross here.  Near the shoreline it gets a bit choppy and churned up..

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This one looks like the Loch Ness Monster!

When I am walking I like to zone out.  I actually don’t feel very confident when I am out walking on my own.  I feel like I stand out.  I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and would rather not have anyone else around me.  Since being ill I don’t have the world’s best balance or ability to walk in a straight line.  I often trip over things and overbalance.  Basically, I am a huge klutzoid.  It also makes me feel ungainly and awkward so I do feel self-conscious when walking.

Music helps me concentrate on something else.  I have my trusty iPod with me or plug headphones into my phone and away I go.  Not too loud, that’s not safe for my ears or my own protection, but enough that I can’t get distracted from what I’m doing.  Which is trying to walk briskly without falling down or losing my balance and ending up in a ditch.

I like different kinds of music on different days.  I like rock and pop and alternative, rap and funk.  Different beats and rhythms make you walk differently and help you stay on track.  I am currently trying to force myself to walk with my head up (I have a bad habit of always having my head lowered, partly due to timidity but also because of aforementioned clumsiness) and I find having a song playing helps me do that somehow.

I don’t have a regular playlist per se.  But I have a few that always come up on rotation and may get repeated a few times because I like the way they match my stride:

Del Amitri – Roll to Me

Scribe – Not Many

Sia – Buttons

King Charles – Bam Bam

Rob Zombie – More Human than Human

The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal

Lulu & The Lampshades – Cups

BlackStreet – No Diggity

Icona Pop – I Love It

Cornershop- Brimful of Asha

And then there’s the old favourites that I listen to when I’m not so much working up a sweat as working through some sadness and just  need to get some fresh air.  Then I’m afraid I crank up the Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Simon & Garfunkel and whatever 70s or 80s song I have on my playlist.  I admit I have to stop myself from air-drumming sometimes (oh come on – who hasn’t done it to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”?!) but mostly I just like that music takes you away from where you are, even if it’s somewhere as nice as by the river.

Do you have favourite exercising tunes?  Any embarrassing ones?  I won’t tell.  Promise 🙂

On the cards…

On the cards…

It is hot, hot, hot here and that is not conducive to being crafty.  Although I feel the cold much more than the heat, even I don’t like being sweaty and uncomfortable, especially when I am trying to make cards out of papers I don’t like and cannot get inspired by.

My last pack of papers from Inspired Crafts contained bright florals, glittery chipboard and hot pink polka dot ribbon.  So NOT my thing.  The papers were from American Crafts’ “Garden Cafe” range and although I know people far cleverer than me would have been able to work on some beautiful projects using these papers, I just couldn’t get into them at all.  I guess I just prefer simpler designs, smaller patterns and more subdued tones.  Or I’m just making excuses…maybe I am just rubbish at crafts and should take up sudoku or something 😦

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Anyway, I struggled through the heat and lack of inspiration and managed to make three cards, none of which I am particularly happy with, that use the papers provided.  I couldn’t work with the polka dot ribbon.  I tried and tried but it didn’t go with anything so I left it out.  The glittery bits of chipboard?  Yeah, they kinda got left behind too.  I’m still determined to make something with them if it kills me.

So, I made these cards.

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They are ugly and uninspired but at least they’re done.  I am sharing my crappy cards with you to make you feel better the next time you are having a bad day, craft-wise.  We all have them (I tell myself this) and I guess I will do better next time.  Actually, there won’t be a next time, in terms of my Design Team requirements as this is my last pack from them (new DT members will be chosen soon and I decided I needed to get back into my own stuff this year and improve on my skills rather than showcasing my lack of them!) and I can’t say I’m not relieved.  It was great to be challenged and forced to use products and papers outside my own tastes and preferences, but I really missed being able to focus on my own projects and not have a deadline etc.  So I’m a free agent again, able to make crappy cards and dodgy designs that I don’t have to show to anyone if I don’t want to!  Except for you guys of course!

PS……..

Just tried a last-ditch effort at making another card using the Garden Cafe papers.  I was aware of the fact that I hadn’t utilised the floral sides of the papers and thought I had better give that a go before handing in what I’d made.  So here it is.  The final card made with American Crafts’ “Garden Cafe” range.  Now I can relax and never look at these papers ever again!

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PPS Apologies to American Crafts.  There is nothing wrong with your papers – they just don’t speak to me, personally.  My limited creative abilities are obviously not up to the more flamboyant designs in your range.  😦

PPPS I actually made one more card using the polka dot ribbon and the glittery chipboards.  I forgot to take a photo though – d’oh!  I used some jump-rings to join the larger chipboard flower to the smaller one, accented them with a button each and then “hung” them from the ribbon like an arty pendant.  Wish I’d taken a photo ’cause it didn’t look so bad… I was determined to use those supplies though!  I handed all my finished items in to the shop and ran away ha ha.  Actually, I stopped for a minute to look around the shop and see all my work displayed.  Didn’t look half bad y’know?  I’d been too scared for the last 6 months to actually go and look at my own work up against other people’s?  Isn’t that silly?  I’m a dufus!  Maybe I should re-name this blog “The Crafty Dufus”.  What do you think?  🙂

Black Sesame & Green Tea Ice Cream

Black Sesame & Green Tea Ice Cream

It’s Summer here in Australia which leads to thoughts of beaches, sunscreen and anything that will cool you down.  Which in turn leads to thoughts of ice cream.  For me anyway.  I’m not supposed to have too much dairy and I do try to stick to that, but there are days when nothing will do except for ice cream.  Especially when it’s 40 degrees outside and you can’t get cool.  Or you’re depressed and need to stand in front of a frosty freezer and fill your face with something you shouldn’t-be-eating-but-who- cares-anyway-and-oh-God-I’m-fat!

Making your own ice cream is satisfying and easy to do.  It has the benefit of being as healthy or tastebud-tinglingly unhealthy as you want.  At any rate, it has less preservatives in it and you know exactly what ingredients go in to it.  I would recommend buying an ice cream maker – they are reasonably cheap (mine cost less that $50) and saves you time and effort.  If you don’t have one, there are plenty of instructions on the ‘net for how to make ice cream by hand.  The following recipe does use a machine but you could adapt it to whatever method and equipment you choose.  I like the green tea ice cream at Baskin & Robbins which is not too sweet and has that slight bitterness of green tea to it – it’s a refreshing change from the more sugary varieties (my favourite being the French Toast one…mmmmm….*drools appreciatively*).  So here is my version which I made up in order to use up some of the ingredients I had in the fridge.  I had copied down an actual “proper” recipe from a magazine but then promptly lost it and so had to create my own version.  This greek yoghurt gives it a nice tang but, if you are not a fan of that kind of taste, you can substitute cream in its place.

Black Sesame & Green Tea Ice Cream

200ml milk  ( I used soy but you can use regular dairy if you like)

200ml greek yoghurt

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 TBS black sesame paste

2 teaspoons matcha powder

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Method

In a bowl, whisk milk, yoghurt, egg yolks, maple syrup, matcha and sesame paste together until combined.  You can taste a bit at this stage to check for sweetness and add a bit more maple syrup if you desire.  I prefer it less sweet but go with what you like!

Chill the ingredients before pouring into into an ice cream maker.  Churn until ice cream consistency is reached.  I find I usually have to stick my ice cream in the freezer for a while to get it nice and firm (if firm is the right word for ice cream…).

That’s it!  Pretty easy.  The resulting mixture is a slightly unattractive greeny colour – you could add some food colouring if you like to pretty it up but. really, that’s going against the whole make-it-at-home-with-less-additives idea.  Trying to make it look pretty in a photo was kinda hard…you’ll just have to trust me that it tastes better than it looks!

Enjoy!

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P.S If you don’t like or can’t have maple syrup, use approx 125g caster sugar instead or substitute the sweetener of choice.  You can add more or less matcha and black sesame paste as desired too.

P.S.S  It took me two years to find black sesame paste here in Perth.  I asked in every Asian grocery store I could find.  Then, after giving up hope of ever seeing it, I stumbled across it in my local Woolworths supermarket, in the aisle with the peanut butter and vegemite, so there you go.  It IS available – you just have to stop looking for it, that’s the secret.  It’s kinda like love.  Or a good hairdresser.   🙂