Thursday, 27 August 2009

Blog changes and chocolate brownie

Exciting changes ahead my friends – I am setting up a new blog on my site with a refreshing new look and… shock, horror… changing over to wordpress. Eeeek. But I know blogger so well….*warning Will Robinson*… steep learning ahead!

Gosh that takes me back – Lost in Space. Isn’t it amazing how famous lines from old TV shows and movies make it into the common vernacular! Is there a line or two that you say frequently in your house that has a similar origin?

I am also guilty of breaking into song for what my husband considers no apparent reason. Yes my house is a bit like a musical at times. The children sit there, either laughing at or ignoring me as I burst into a refrain set off by something they have said. Sad, I know….

Well, LOTS of comments regarding my cooking burst last week. Particularly, it seems, anything to do with chocolate. Chocoholics of the world unite!!! I have some dietary intolerances, however chocolate is one thing I can still have – thankfully! As my chocolate brownie is in demand all around the neighbourhood – any one who tastes it always asks for the recipe - I shall share it with you all so you can enjoy the chocolate overload with me :) . I will give fair warning though – it is NOT low fat OR low calorie, but is sure tastes great and even better it only takes 10 min to make (plus cooking time).

Annette’s Chocolate Brownie Recipe

12oz butter, chopped
12oz block dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
6 eggs
12oz sugar
splash of vanilla essence
8oz plain flour
4oz chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to moderate / 160 degrees. Line baking dish or large square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
2.Melt butter and cooking chocolate by your preferred method, stir till smooth. In a bowl, beat eggs with hand whisk and slowly whisk in sugar. Add vanilla and mix. 3.Pour butter/chocolate mix into egg mixture and mix well with wooden spoon. Fold in flour. Stir in chocolate chips.
4.Pour into prepared tin immediately and bake till top is no longer wobbly (around 40 minutes but this will vary with your oven).
Do not overbake!

PS If you are gluten intolerant I have used plain gluten free flour in this recipe quite successfully!

Whilst on the topic of baking, if you’re after some great baking tips and cake decorating ideas, check out A Piece of Cake Decorating ;) And then – totally different tangent of course (my brain works like that – here one minute there the next), check out Bags by Melanie , particularly this one – I think I may have a bit of a slight addiction to handbags recently - I seem to keep getting drawn to them LOL. She has a very readable blog too!

I have been very busy at my bench – I finished off those fun multi coloured pieces I was working on for our upcoming summer here downunder. Easy to wear and the focal of a white summer sundress, the necklace pictured above is one of my favourites – very bright and fun – using bright red bamboo coral, yellow calcite, lime green chalk turquoise and black onyx, with just a sprinkling of sterling silver for extra gleam.

Now I’ve turned all girly and feminine and have been making delicate, AAA-grade gem earrings. Sparkly rock crystal quartz, African amethyst, smoky quartz, lemon quartz…set off with a mixture of peridot, pink topaz, prehnite, aquamarine…. you get the picture I’m sure ;) YUM!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Gardening, cooking and renewable energy...

Another week has flown by. I'm getting worried. I'm sure I'll turn around in what seems like a couple of weeks time and Christmas decorations will be up! Someone told me the other day that it was only 130 days till Christmas. Since that wasn't TODAY, its even less now....

We have continued to have quite glorious winter weather here - lots of blue skies, sunshine, soft breezes and mild temperatures. I have spent more time in the garden planting gazanias (I think that's what they are - ask my neighbour - I just do as I'm told!) underneath my roses to help keep the weeds at bay. The knowledgeable neighbour assures me that they will form a thick mat and choke out the weeds. BUT I have to be very conscientious for the next few months and water them regularly (not my strong point, I'll admit). Oh the responsibility! LOL

I also seem to have spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking - brought on by an abundance of eggs from my mother-in-law's very happy chooks (chickens). Everytime she pops in, she brings another couple of dozen eggs so I was up to NINE dozen and really had to step in and do something with them as the odd boiled egg or omlette just wasn't enough. So I've made an almond and carrot torte, a mega-sized chocolate mud cake with chocolate glaze and two slabs of chocolate brownie. That used up two dozen. Then we had a crustless quiche one night and I made double to have for lunches so there's another dozen gone. The torte and cake have already been eaten, so no doubt the family will want me back in the kitchen cooking as soon as the brownie is polished off!

What do you think of renewable energy? Specifically wind power? We have two companies in our town at the moment attempting to sign people up for wind turbines. The turbines are an impressive 80 metres high - and that's just to the hub - plus the blades on top of that! Massive. They came out to visit us today and we find that we're not quite high enough, although we could be considered for a secondary development once the main wind farm is established on a nearby ridge line. There is lots to consider though, one of which is our very scenic views will change quite radically to very scenic views with masses of wind towers. I like the idea of green energy but I'm not 100% about having it surrounding me every time I go outside.

I have also spent some time at my bench although I haven't got as far as taking photos of the new pieces yet. But there are some bright and fun pieces for a lighthearted touch of summer. I really struggled doing the first one - it is a completely different mindset to doing 'bright and fun' compared to 'understated elegance'! But after hours upon hours of moving stones around I achieved the first one and the rest just happened :)

I've been busy loading some recently made stock onto the website now that spring is just around the corner too. AND I've been on facebook, but I'm keeping it under control. I only pop in for a half hour in the morning. I'm happy to say I've already exceeded 100 fans in a week which I'm pretty impressed with!

Today's picture is of a very pretty bracelet - I try to avoid the word 'pretty' as it is just so easy to use for so many things, but it just suits this piece! Palest pink faceted rose quartz and mauve-pink freshwater pearls linked together with 12ct goldfill.

Holidays and vacations seem to be in the air in blog land - two new blogs I've started to check in on recently - Critical Mass and have both been away and there are lots of wonderful holidays snaps to admire. I love seeing what people go to see and do in other countries!

I also saw on the Michabella Creations blog that she won a print - it's just the most adorable little dachshund picture! I've seen old family photos and recall stories from when my parents had one of these cute (if somewhat strange looking) little dogs.

And continuing the "green" theme - Cherry Mag has a great articles Top Tips for Keeping Green Around the House which has some great, sensible advice.

Ooops, nearly forgot again!!! I have been very remiss in not mentioning a recent award I received! Thank you to Super Mommy to the Rescue for a Friends Award :)

the Rules:

This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. deliver this award to six bloggers who must choose six more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award. I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming…

I would like to pass this award onto:
Julie at Momspective
JenJen at Gotta Love Mom
Jackie at 3 Little Ones
Tess at Six Feet Under
Jennifer at Its A Beauty Filled Life
Tammy at Cappucino Confessions

Till next :)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Spring jewels and farming life

Another week has rolled around - gosh they seem to go so fast! A combination of more time spent weeding and pruning in the rose garden, co-ordinating a large buy of gems for a group of fellow jewellery designers and keeping the good ship 'family' afloat has just swallowed up the time.

Oh and did I mention Facebook? I've been quite avidly trying to stay away from potential time-drains such Facebook and Twitter as I really spend more time than I have to spare on forums and checking out things online. But I succumbed to the temptation and joined Facebook this week. I still have very vague notions of how it all works, but I have worked out how to put up a personal page and a business page. I'm surprised at the number of friend requests I have had from people who I don't know! And for only being up and running a couple of days I'm surprised with the number of fans my business page has already attracted. BUT I can see time disappearing with continued use, so I'm trying to be sensible. So far. *ahem*

Two blogs that proved interesting reading this week for me were Silver Rose Blog which had an interesting bit on International Friendship Day. What a lovely idea- but I've never heard of it!!! So much for being 'international' ;). The other is Your Cheeky Monkey - Monique does some great work and I know my girls would adore these Tote Bags made out of rescued furnishing fabric!

Onto farming life, I had a request for a picture of the darling little calves that we have dotting our paddocks at the moment, so I have obliged:

They're actually quite difficult to get close to - a little skittish - so photographing them proved more of a challenge than say, the dog ;)

This is our working dog, Patch :) He's a very tall short-haired border collie, with, would you believe by his size - a pedigree? Maybe he had deerhound as one of his ancestors and he's a throwback?

Spring is only a couple of weeks away now so I've started loading the new spring-inspired stock onto my website. Lots of work ahead, but satisfying :) If I can find the time to do it of course!! The picture above is one piece that went up yesterday - a torsade of plump pink-peach freshwater pearls, sparkling rock crystal quartz and lovely big drops of faceted rose quartz. It would look great with a floaty dress in spring or summer or even as a bridal piece.

OK, best be off. That nose has lifted off the grindstone a tad too high and I'd better get it back in place ;) Till next!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Working up to spring and summer brights

I'm feeling all summery. I think the weekend of glorious weather - bright, sunny and mild - after some very cold, grey days. Plus the fact that I managed to spend a good proportion of that spring-like weather outside in the rose garden (weeding - yuk! and pruning - ouch!) may have had an effect. Now that I've recovered from the sore back from bending over and the stiff hands from gripping weeds, of course! A good dose of Vitamin D perhaps?

I'm currently finding myself being drawn to all things bright and cheery - like this gorgeous clutch by TiLT Creations and these pretty earrings by Kandi-o Designs and even this swimsuit that Brittany featured on her blog.

To match my mood, I've pictured some earrings made with natural apple green turquoise with fat white freshwater pearls. A fresh, bright mix, perfect for spring/summer!

I'm ordering new stones for summer designs at the moment and of course I'm being drawn to lime green (variscite, green turquoise, peridot), Aegean blue (Peruvian amazonite, Peruvian blue opal, turquoise, larimar, aquamarine) and some coral pinks too .... I love how colour can affect your mood and outlook.

I'm not the only one loving brights - in the latest jewellery news, I've heard that a very rare 5 carat vivid pink diamond is due to go on sale with Christies Hong Kong office in December and they expect it to reach a "stratospheric" price! Ahh to have that sort of cash lying about. Vivid pink is pretty hard to get in natural gems and the colour of this particular beauty is stunning.

Down on the farm, the heifers are almost finished calving and weeks of checking them three times a day is thankfully going to stop! The calves are terribly cute though :).

Of course, after calving we start thinking of our annual holiday. Yes, I know we've only just had term break, but hey, we can dream! I found a great post on the Tilda Virtual Services blog about surviving the school holidays - darn it, should have read it a month ago ;)

I guess I should get busy and before I know it spring will be here :) Have a great week everyone!


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