19Apr/14
hot cross buns

Autumn Light and Hot Cross Buns

We’re thoroughly enjoying the last days of the Autumn holiday. The weather has been exquisite with warm, sunshiny days and cool, cozy nights.

grass in setting sunThe light in the afternoon is magical, glimmering softly through the trees.

sun setting through treesIt makes even plain old grass look positively wondrous. :-)

sun setting through grassAnd I love this color, so rich and wonderful.

sun setting over fieldBear requested Hot Cross Buns for Easter – something I’ve never made before. I was a bit nervous, but after reading the recipe realized it wasn’t so difficult after all. They are simple spiced buns studded with raisins or currants and candied citrus peel. The crosses on top are made with a simple paste of flour and water, squeezed through a piping bag. They turned out beautifully and Bear pronounced them good. Phew. :-)

hot cross bunsNow it’s time to get comfy for movies and some utter relaxation.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

15Apr/14
small pond

A Time to Rest

We are on week two of our Autumn Holidays and it has been so good. We are both very tired, Bear recovering from surgery and work stress, me recovering from health issues. We had hoped to go away for a trip, but looked at each other, smiled and said, “Nope, let’s stay home and rest. We can go gallivanting when we’re feeling better.”

So we’ve been resting and it’s been delicious. :-)

farm pond

We’ve put off numerous farm projects and spent our days doing the bare minimum, focusing our energies on things that make us happy.

There’s been a lot of sleeping in, lazy mornings drinking coffee and reading books, cozy evenings with popcorn and movies.

small pondBear has been puttering away in his wood shed, making a medieval wheel barrow, sword box, and today, a beautiful medieval stool that will be great for sitting around the campfire on our medieval camping trips.

I’ve been doing a bit of sewing, a bit of wood-burning, some gardening and baking, sketching and photography, all those little things that bring such great happiness.

fallen treesI’ve also been hiking every day out in our woods – the bush, as my Aussies call it. :-) I love it out there. The world seems to disappear as I enter the canopy of trees, watching in utter delight as kangaroos and wallaby’s appear from nowhere to bound off into the neighbors fields.

Yesterday was cloudy, cool, and outrageously windy – the effects of Cyclone Ita. The devastation up north is horrific. I ache for their loss as I give thanks that we only had a few branches knocked down.

The wind is fierce but wonderful, so cooling as we worked on fencing, so pretty filled with the bright pink petals from trees in our yard. It felt so good to be out in it, especially in the bush watching tree branches sway and the long grasses dance.

gnarled treesI chanced upon these bright pink berries clinging to vines that clambered across the forest floor. I don’t know what they are, but they make me smile when I see them underfoot.

pink berriesNow it’s time to juice some apples and pears and tackle the laundry pile that seems to grow and multiply before my very eyes. Farm life has that effect somehow. :-)

Wishing you a restful week. xo

21Mar/14
green pine cones

Woodland Treasures and a Gluten Free Picnic Lunch

I love going into the woods in Queensland for I never know what I’m going to discover.

This week I spent a lot of time in town waiting for various doctor appointments, so in between I’d wander to a nearby park or amble along a tree-lined creek to breathe deep of pine-scented air and see what I could see.

It may be from a childhood spent in the pine forests of Canada, but every time I see a pine tree, any kind of pine tree, my heart gives a little leap of recognition. It’s like seeing an old friend.

green pine cones

The pine trees in Australia are different than I’m used to. The trunks are more gnarled with great glistening mounds of sap where branches have snapped off in the fierce winds that bluster through Allora.

pine tree trunk

The pine fronds are longer, more delicate, but they retain that wondrously clean scent that I love.

The cones look different too. This week I found round pine cones and thought they were absolutely adorable. :-)

round pine cone

On days like this I pack a lunch for myself, something healthy and fortifying and delicious.

Instead of a sandwich or salad, I like to make my lunch a bit special, something to look forward to.

This week I brought slices of tender roasted chicken lightly salted with Himalayan pink salt. I added veggies, Thai-spiced Roasted Beetroot and broccoli roasted with lemon zest and black pepper. And a few squares of dark chocolate ended things nicely.

gluten-free picnic lunch

What is your favorite healthy lunch on the go?

Wood-burning and Ugly Good Maple Shortbread

It’s been a beautiful Autumn weekend of treasure hunting in thrift stores, lunch, and fun projects with Bear.

I pulled out my sewing machine and spent many happy hours sewing up cute sundresses and a bright red tarp for my medieval medicine booth. I live in sundresses for three-quarters of the year, so it’s wonderful to have a couple more to add to my collection.

I worked in my garden and wood-burned several items for a new order and added a couple of new ones to my wood-burning shoppe.

wood burned rolling pin

My favorite is this solid wood rolling pin. I hope to make one for my own kitchen tomorrow. :-)

pyrograph rolling pin

Last week I started baking again and that’s been so fun. Today I sauteed piles of fresh nectarines in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and the mixture is ready to be frozen as instant pie filling whenever we have a craving.

I’ve also been making Ugly Shortbread. Sometimes I crave a homemade cookie but don’t have the time or energy to cream and sift and shape, so this is my go-to recipe that takes less than five minutes to throw together and tastes delicious, even if it’s not beautiful.

maple shortbread

It’s easy to mix up flavors too, just add a Tbsp of ground almonds and 1 tsp almond extract for Almond Shortbread, or 1 Tbsp desiccated coconut and 1 tsp coconut extract for Coconut Shortbread.

What is your favorite go-to recipe for something sweet?

Ugly Good Maple Shortbread

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp maple extract
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup wholemeal flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (200 C).
  2. Stir extract into melted butter and set aside.
  3. In medium bowl stir together sugar, salt, and flour.
  4. Pour over melted butter and stir until mixture is a moldable dough.
  5. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Press dough onto sheet in a rectangular shape to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into even squares with 1/2 inch space between each square.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Autumn in the Woods

It is so good to be back writing here. Due to some dreadful health issues I had to take an extended break, but I’m on a good pain management regimen now and hopefully I will be able to post regularly again.

After some sweltering hot Summer days, Autumn has arrived with cool winds and cloud-filled skies.

I’ve been spending as much time as possible in our woods, delighting in the changes that Autumn brings.

I love the delicate, creamy blossoms of this bush against the rough, grey bark of the gum tree.

flowered tree in forest

And these tiny white flowers that dot the forest floor like snow flakes.

tiny white flowers

Even the geese make a beeline for the trees these days, spending their morning feed under the shady branches, searching for grubs among fallen limbs and leaves.

Pilgrim geese in the grass

Toppled gum trees that were smooth and weathered last year are now covered with richly textured lichen and lacy tendrils of moss.

lichen covered fallen log

Lichen covers the rocks as well, giving them a beautifully weathered look.

lichen on rocks

And of course I love the cheery daisies giving their last show of white and yellow before Winter.

tiny white daisiesWhere is your favorite place to observe the changes in your weather this week?