Create: Honeycomb card

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This is just going to be a quick little post today, to show you a card I made. You can never have too many handmade cards, right? I think it adds the perfect personal touch to any gift, or even as a card alone, shows the recipient that you have thought about them, and that you really care.

Recently, upon searching through my collection of cards I’ve made and not yet given, I discovered I don’t have a lot of gender-neutral or more male appropriate ones – the majority of what I have left is on the feminine side of things. So I decided, for my next one, I had to make something a bit more versatile – and this is what I came up with.  However, you could use this idea and go with any colour scheme you like!

I decided a pentagon accent would be nice to maintain the geometric feel but create contrast and edginess (get it, it has one less edge than the rest?!)

You really don’t need much to make something like this yourself:

blank card + hexagon-print scrapbooking paper + acrylic paints (I used lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, lime green and gold) + a brush + scrap of green card + pentagon stencil + sticky foam (to attach raised pentagon) = an easy card!

It’s quick too, you just have to allow time for the paint to dry… so maybe not one you want to make the same day you intend to give it ;).

Here’s a progress shot or two, because why not:

 

Recipe: Vanilla bean, salted caramel & macadamia cheesecake

IMG_3215Wow. That’s a long name for a cake…

Maybe the ‘I named it after everything that’s in it belated 20th birthday cake’ is better?

No? I’ll think again… but in the meantime, let’s get on with the recipe!

I won’t lie – this cake sounds complicated. but the caramel is by far the hardest part – if you can master that, the rest is easy.

The only thing I’ll warn you about before you rush out to the supermarket to grab the ingredients for this is that it can be quite messy to serve if the caramel isn’t quite thick enough, or the walls aren’t quite strong enough – as you can see I’ve had a small avalanche happen here.  It didn’t bother me, but if you’re going to be serving it over your best tablecloth, or at a friend’s house, maybe make it as mini cheesecakes for some peace of mind.  You can use the exact same recipe and make it in ramekins or something similar that you can leave the cakes in to serve.

So, here we go…

Vanilla bean, salted caramel & macadamia cheesecake
The floor & the walls (approximate measurements - if your crust 
isn't thick enough to go high up the sides of your tin, make more):
350g plain sweet biscuits (I used Arnott's Granita because they're not too sweet)
150g butter
Pinch salt
100g macadamias (unroasted, unsalted)
The cheesecake:
3 tsp gelatine
1 1/2 tbsp boiling water
500g cream cheese
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300ml cream
The salted caramel:
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 cup cream
50g butter
1 tsp salt
Reserved macadamias, to decorate

(note that it's most convenient to make the caramel and base before the cake, as these both need to cool before you can use them!)

Preparation:
1. Lightly grease a 23cm springform pan
2. Roast your macadamias.  This is really easy - just place them on a tray and pop under the grill for a few minutes until they look 
 like this: (make sure to watch them - they burn fast!)
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Choose any nice-looking macadamias and reserve them for decoration - the rest will be used in the crust.

The floor and the walls:
1. Melt butter.
2. Crush biscuits and the not-so-pretty macadamias (I used a food 
processor, but you can do it by hand if you like). Mix in salt.
3. Add butter to biscuit mixture. If it's not the right texture or you haven't made enough for your tin, add more butter/biscuits 
until it's just right.
4. Press biscuit mixture into tin. It needs to go a long way up the sides as it has to hold the caramel on top of the cake to stop it going everywhere!
5. Pop the base in the fridge to set.

The cheesecake:
1. Dissolve gelatine in boiling water, set aside to cool.
2. Soften cream cheese and beat with sugar and vanilla in an 
electric mixer until it's smooth and creamy:
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3. Whip cream and fold into cheese mixture.

The salted caramel:
1. Heat sugar and water over medium heat, stirring (you don't want burnt sugar, it's the worst).
2. Eventually all the water will evaporate and you'll end up with 
big crystals of sugar and you think you've failed and it looks 
something like this but a bit crunchier:
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3. Do not give up - have patience, keep stirring and eventually it will melt into a beautiful golden caramel. Remove from heat.
4. At this point, go ahead and add the cream and butter, stirring 
to mix. If your caramel gets too cool to melt the butter or forms 
lumps, just pop it back on the stove and stir until smooth.  
5. Add salt and cool caramel until you're ready to use it.
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See? It wasn't really that hard!

Assembling the cake:
1. Pour a little of the caramel into the cooled crust to cover the base:
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2. Spread cheesecake mixture over the top and place in the fridge 
to set:
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3. When the cake is set, spread the reserved caramel over the top, and put back in the fridge until almost ready to serve.

4. Just prior to serving, decorate with the reserved macadamias, remove from the tin and place on a serving platter.

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Enjoy!


An adventure in quilting hexagons: Part 2 – Choosing fabric for a quilt

(If you haven’t read part one of this post and you’d like to know about the inspiration for this project, you can find it here).

So, the best thing happened.

I quote Mum: ‘Use whatever you like out of my stash’.

Yes.  Just yes!

I want to make this quilt double bed sized, and so the naturally frugal student side of me was worried about how much the fabric will cost, whereas the spontaneous side was thinking ‘oh just buy the fabric already, you’d rather have a quilt than food, right?!’  I don’t really know which side of me was winning that war, but now it no longer needs to be fought, because I have all this:

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Yeah, ok, I haven’t ironed them yet… ignore that please!

These are all standard quilting weight 100% cotton fabrics… apart from the yellow accent one, I have no idea what it is made of but it used to be a pillowcase, I think.  Why not upcycle if you can, right? (You may also be wondering why the accent is yellow… the border is to be yellow, so I thought it might tie in nicely).

Speaking of the border, I haven’t chosen fabric for it or for the quilt back yet, I want to do that after I finish the top. Eventually.

In the end, when I went through the scraps it turned out I only needed to buy a little bit of fabric (in all truthfulness, by my quick calculations I would have had enough, but I always like to have some spare in case of mistakes!).  I bought two half-metres of these Alexander’s Flower Blenders by M’Liss because they work really well with the other fabrics I chose.

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Speaking of which fabrics go well with others, I thought I’d share some of my tips for choosing fabrics for a stash-busting quilt, using this one as an example:

  1. Think about the sort of colour scheme you want – one colour? A few coordinating colours? A crazy mix of random scraps? – and go through your stash. Unless you’re making a quilt from a kit, have a look at what you already have before you buy anything!  Grab out anything that looks ok and lay it out on the floor.
  2. Rule out any scraps that are too small – have a look at the pattern: what size pieces do you need to cut, and how many?  For this particular quilt, I need to start with 10″ squares, so anything smaller than that was straight out.  I intend to make it random, so my fabrics vary in size a lot – some I will get one hexagon out of, others maybe 6 or 7.  For this sort of scrappy quilt, that is fine – if you have enough variety in fabrics, proportions become unimportant.
  3. If you’ve noticed you have any really big pieces, maybe set them aside at this stage for the border or the back, if you like.
  4. Think about whether your pattern at all restricts the types of fabric you can use.  For example, here you have to cut the hexagons in half and rejoin them, so anything with really bold and obviously repetitive patterns is no good, as matching up the patterns would take forever (by all means, go for it if you like – I’m too lazy for that!).  Basically, the fabric below, although pretty, represents everything I didn’t want:IMG_3179
  5. Think about colour – put all your fabrics together, stand back, and have a good look. If there’s a fabric or two that stands out too much or looks otherwise out of place, take it out.  Also check that you have a good balance of lights and darks, and of each colour if you’re using multiple colour ranges.
  6. Finally (sorry, this is the mathsy part!), calculate whether you have enough fabric, and what/how much you need to buy.  It’s always a good idea to take some swatches of the fabric you already have when you shop for the remainder to make sure they match well, too!

So now the next step is cutting… once my half hexagon ruler arrives, which should make cutting hexagons a breeze!

Getting back to old hobbies (and a lesson in jewellery photography)

Coming to the end of my teenage years has encouraged me to reflect on where I was at the start of them.  As anyone would expect, I’ve changed a lot, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to reminisce and drag out things I used to love, if nothing else, for old times’ sake.

I hit teenagerhood (if that’s even a word) right around the time beading and jewellery making was a big thing.  I remember getting  a starter jewellery making kit from book club (yes, book club, remember that?!) in late primary school.

It completely, 100% had me in and I basically spent the next couple of years investing the entirety of my pocket money into jewellery making supplies, and making jewellery that I hardly wore, just for the fun of it.

It’s only now that I see that was a pretty big waste of time and money and that’s what inspired me to try to make an effort to wear some of the things I made, as well as to use up some of the big old stash.

I decided that a good place to start was to use up a whole heap of odd little beads – ones that have no matching ones, or that I don’t really like on their own, but actually work together really well.  There’s a mixture of glass beads as well as a few resin and plastic ones, which help keep the necklace light enough to wear comfortably.  (Please ignore how faded and dusty my beading tray is… it’s been a while!)

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This is what I made.

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This necklace is loosely based on a Katie Hacker design from her book 30 Minute Beading, but I’m sure I could give you a tutorial on the basic design, if anyone would like one!  The thing I like about it most is the fact that the toggle clasp is in the front, so it’s both functional and a feature of the design.  Here’s a close-up of the toggle, which also shows off its usefulness as a place to hang little charms…

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Now, I did mention ‘a lesson in jewellery photography’ in the title for a reason… I’m no great photographer (I use my trusty iPhone 5S as my camera), and I found it really difficult to get good photos of this necklace.  There are so many shiny things for the light to reflect off, so I wanted to share a few tips of how I got this to work.

  1. Indoor photos.  In the shade.  There was too much sun outside to get anything without heaps of light reflecting.
  2. Adjusting the angle to help minimise issues with the light, and to move any shadows around until you’re happy with them.
  3. Try different backdrops to complement the piece.  The earthy amber tones in this necklace just happen to match beautifully with a lot of the natural tones around the house – I used doors, floors, cushions, furniture… basically I walked around and picked out anything I could find that looked like it may work and gave it a go.
  4. Especially if you’re an inexperienced photographer like me… take heaps of photos! I find it’s much less frustrating to take a whole bunch and sort through them later, rather than taking and retaking; agonising over one shot again and again.  Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re bound to get some good ones eventually!

Warning, photo spam… here are some of the better ones I ended up with.

What hobbies did you enjoy when you were younger?  Will you go back to them?  And, would you like to see more jewellery here?

 

 

An adventure in quilting hexagons: Part 1 – Inspiration

Ok, I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of quilting experience.  This quilt below is the first and only one I’ve ever made… It came as a kit from Spotlight a while back and it’s basically squares and rectangles.  So even as an inexperienced quilter, it took me no time at all to sew and I love it.  And so, because I enjoyed making it so much I decided (even though it’s really not good for the budget) that it’s time to make another quilt.

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So why hexagons, you ask? Well, I’ve always liked hexagon quilts, but it was really this picture on Pinterest that made me want to give it a go.

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Something about the simplicity of almost monochrome hexagons with a contrasting border drew me in and I knew I had to make a quilt like this one.

The only thing I worried about was how difficult hexagons would be to sew, which a quick google revealed is a valid concern as it really only works well if you sew them by hand.

That simply wasn’t going to happen. I hate hand sewing.

So when I came across this wonderful tutorial I knew it was the solution. Start with half hexagons so you only have to sew straight lines?  Yes please!

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So it looks like this quilt is going to be a combination of two ideas: the colour scheme of the first, and the pattern from the second tutorial.

Now to choose some fabric…

 

 

 

No one likes a dry biscuit (& I don’t mean savoury)

IMG_3148.jpgHome made biscuits.

The fun of making them, the delicious smell of them cooking, waiting for them to cool just enough so you can eat them without sustaining a nasty burn – still warm and delicious and, hopefully, moist too.

Given that uni is finished for the year and that I have access to Mum’s well equipped kitchen at the moment, I decided today was a good day for baking.

The recipe for these honey coconut biscuits is from this battered old book, which you can somehow still buy.IMG_3149

Because coconut can be quite dry, I worried about the texture of the biscuits and so I made one small modification to the recipe, a little trick Mum taught me…

Add milk.

A tiny little bit of milk, simple as that.

Because no one likes a dry biscuit – just a little milk makes all the difference to texture.

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^ also one more thing, these look like truffles before they are baked which makes me think that maybe honey coconut truffles is a concept I need to explore…

A new journey

Hey there,

Welcome to my little blog.

I’ve been reading blogs for a long time.

Today I finally got around to making one of my own.

I have no idea how to blog, but I think the best way to learn is going to be just to jump in and start…

So, if you’re reading this… thanks for joining me on this journey, and I’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions and constructive criticism are always welcome!

Thanks & etcetera,

Kate