apple bread – a pinterest recipe test run

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve been AWOL for ages, then I finally come back and share a recipe! Not a craft project, not a home improvement project, not artwork, no furniture makeovers…

I have the nerve to come back after a long absence with a recipe!

Geez.

I feel your frustration.

But I have an excuse. I’ve been busy! I ran out of gas! I had a flat tyre! I didn’t have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! It wasn’t my fault! I swear!

(must be channeling John Belushi)

But we all have to eat, right? So I made cake.

This is the cake I decided to try (click image for original recipe).

Holly from Spend with Pennies calls it Apple Bread with Cinnamon.

This is what mine looked like the day after. I was too busy eating it the day I made it.

You’ll notice two things: mine is darker brown (I took the photo under artificial light without flash) and its drier. I probably cooked it a bit longer than I should have…

But its still yummy!

This is her recipe with comments, I didn’t change it:

Apple Bread with Cinnamon
 
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon (me, I like cinnamon, I’d use more… its not enough!)
⅓ cup white sugar
⅔ cup brown sugar, divided
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup applesauce (Holly said you can skip this if you double the butter… I used applesauce. Too much apple is not possible.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or, like me, just pour it into the bowl and guess what a teaspoon is)
1½ cups all-purpose flour (or plain flour if you prefer, or live in Australia)
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup milk
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped obviously (I used 2 smaller apples but I think I’ll go for broke and use 3 next time, just cause I can.)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
 
Instructions – the way I did it
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or approx 200 degrees C. Grease and flour a loaf pan. I skipped that and just lined the loaf pan with baking paper. Why scrub if you don’t have to? 
Combine ⅓ cup of the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Next time I’m going to put in a bit more cinnamon. Or maybe I have defective cinnamon.
With mixer on medium, beat white sugar, remaining brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix in applesauce. Add well beaten eggs and vanilla. Yeah. I did that, in that order. My sugar and butter refused to go fluffy cause there wasn’t enough moisture. So added eggs and it went fluffy. And vanilla and applesauce and it was a bit curdled looking… Eh. What the heck… I was going to cook anyway, right?
Stir together flour and baking powder. I sifted them together and then mixed. Can’t hurt to be careful they mix well. Add flour to egg mixture and stir just until combined. Do not overmix!! Add milk. Ok… now this bit I didn’t understand. Add milk after you’ve mixed the flour into the batter… after?

Ok. I mixed the flour in and didn’t overmix. I didn’t want the world to end. Even though I was worried I’d have some floury unmixed bits of batter in my cake… And I might have added the milk before I’d totally combined, not overmixed, the mixture….
Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle with ½ of the apples and ½ of the brown sugar mix. 

Stir the remaining apples into the remaining batter and pour into the pan. Top with remaining brown sugar mixture.

I see the theory of this. However, in my endeavour to improve every recipe I come across, I think that next time I’ll do it this way: Pour half the mixture into the baking paper lined pan you don’t have to scrub later, top with half the apples and less than half of the brown sugar mix. Do as she says for the top, but put more of the sugar and cinnamon mix on top cause its what gives you the caramelised crunchy bits you’ll want more of!
Bake approx. 40 minutes. Remove from oven, brush topping with melted butter. Brush? The crumbly sugar mix? I think not… I poured the melted butter over. I think it got the idea. 
Continue baking an additional 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t know about you, but I use a slightly longer skewer when testing a cake. About 10 inches longer. I already burned my finger when melting the butter!

Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Agreed. But about that baking time. I did the 45min thing, the butter thing, then put it back in… but every time I tested it, my skewer came out coated in batter. I’d give it another 5 min, then another 5. In the end I think I overcooked it a bit. 

All in all, I think this was a success. A great cake and I’m definitely making it again. I like it even better than banana cake or carrot cake!
And one day I might even work out how to use an oven properly.
z

quick and easy fingerless gloves

…Or what to do with knitted squares…

Long story, but I got ahold of some knitted squares. The obvious things to do with them are to: make a blanket, a scarf, cushion covers…

Or fingerless gloves!

These were so easy to make and look so cute that I decided to share in case you have knitted squares, or if you can knit and can only make squares…
So here goes:
I opted for blanket stitching the side in a contrast colour and to decorate with some buttons. I think you could make them out of scraps of polar fleece fabric just as easily. 
They’re so cute everyone wants a pair.  Can’t wait till winter so I can wear them for real.
z

Shared at:

final guest room reveal

Its been a gruelling few days, but the house is finally ready for mom’s visit.
I’ll start by sharing the guest room, but before I do I’d like to thank my friend Patrice for all her help today. Without her I’d still be walking around in circles, overwhelmed by the task ahead of me.
So here is the guest room before (right after I decided the old office would make a better guest room – that post here):
And here is is now, with the bed made, the ladder bedside table and fresh flowers.
Before:
After:
Yes, you’ll notice something new… the linen cupboard has doors! More on that later.
Enjoy some more photos of the guest room. Mind you, the shelves aren’t really ‘dressed’. They’re just ‘there’. I had to draw the line somewhere or I’d still be working.
A nice, light, bright and welcoming room. And just to make it a big Christmassy, I hung these little twigs with felt shapes I made last year near the door.
I think mom will be comfortable in here, don’t you?
I know I’m very pleased with it.
z

non fattening chocolate cake!

Ha!

I got you didn’t I? You thought I’d found some lush chocolate cake recipe that would allow you to eat your cake and keep your figure!

Sorry to disappoint you, but not quite… although I can guarantee this cake won’t make you fat.

I’ve been having some fun with wire lately. Its no secret I love wire, I have a huge board dedicated to it on Pinterest, and I’ve shared quite a few wire projects in the past.

This cake is made from regular fine galvanised wire from the hardware store, and some brown copper florist wire. Hence the chocolate in the cake. And don’t forget the cream on top!

The spoon is the same, silver and brown wire. You need a matching spoon if you’re to have any chance of eating this piece of cake!

Its sitting on an old Meakin plate I found with gorgeous scalloped edges. It looks best on a white or cream plate.

I haven’t been sharing much lately, but I have been busy doing stuff, making things. I’ll have more to share soon. All my projects are in various stages of development from ‘just beginning’ to ‘finished and awaiting their closeups’. Then you’ll be drowing in posts till the next dry spell.

That’s just the way things work out around here.

z

cheap cubbies makeover

Here I am. Still alive.

And barely crafting.

I’ve done a few small things lately, and one not so small and pretty stupid. But more about that later.

Here is one of my small projects. I bought 4 of these little babies from Kmart, but a smaller version with 9 drawers.

They’re just mdf and cardboard. Cheap.

I thought they’d make perfect storage for all the little crap things I like to keep around. Like buttons, crystals, beads, small found objects.
You know. The kind of stuff that fills small containers which collect in larger boxes or fill drawers and cupboards and when you need something, you know you have one but you can’t find it anywhere cause you’re sure it was in a small plastic jar with a red lid, but where did I put it, I was sure it was in the box under my desk…
Or is that just me?
ANYWAY, the little cabinets have to be glued together and painted. I picked one of my miss-tint sample paint pots for the cabinet colours, a kind of warm grey. It goes with both the tones of scrapbook paper I also bought for the drawers.

One set of cubbies are already full, the other is still waiting for me to get around to it. They’ll live in the office where they’ll (theoretically) make looking for things easier.

Here’s a closeup of a tin and wire fish made by Wayne. Cute isn’t it?

So, back to the stupid big thing I did? Well a couple of weeks ago I decided I was sick and tired of the swamp in the back corner of our yard and knew that if I dug a trench I could redirect the water from the yard.

It seemed easy enough. The ground was really soft due to all the rain…

But afterwards I was sore.

I’m still sore.

Every time I think I’m better I’ll do something – like get some wood for the fire, pick up a bag, get a cup of tea, get up – and the pain is back. I’m walking like a bent old woman.

Meanwhile Wayne is in hospital. He’s had spinal surgery. It went well but he’s out of action for a while and I’m keeping busy. I have all the animals to take care of, work, hospital visits. If I wasn’t sore I’d be taking advantage of his absence to remodel the bathroom or paint the living room.

Sigh.

So I amuse myself with small things, like these drawers.

At least they’re handy.

z

a little change in the bedroom

I’ve stopped counting – new bed linen for our bed

I finally managed to put one of the new doona covers on the bed this weekend. I ordered this and another online, they were on sale for $35 each… that’s incredibly cheap. How can a girl resist that sort of sale?

This last pic is probably more correct colour-wise, though I guess it also will depend on your monitor.

Our bedroom has a personality disorder… dark and masculine in some parts, feminine and white in others…

And its all my fault.

Our bedroom walls are a medium blue, a really nice colour and very relaxing. The curtains are dark brown and blue, the bed and bedside tables are dark brown in a country style. They came with Wayne, and somehow seemed more suited to us as a couple than my lighter coloured timber (and lighter style) bed which is in the guest room.

I loved Wayne’s chunky bed, though I’m not overly fond of the bedside tables. I also loved his dark brown bedding so I decided to go with that colour scheme: blue and brown. Its a more masculine room, but comfy and warm.

I hated the plain pine wardrobe and chests of drawers so I painted those antique white. Thus we have a room which is Wayne on one side and Zefi on the other. The bed side is all dark wood and Wayne’s american indian stuff, the other side is all antique white chests and wardrobe with family photos and knicknacks.

One day I’d love a white on white bedroom but it won’t be happening any time soon. I’m not up to repainting the big bed or bedsides and ain’t no way we’re buying new furniture right now. Its either make/recycle/revamp things we have or I find at a tip shop or live with what we have.

Frankly, given its taken me years to paint the chests of drawers and I’ve dragged on the wardrobe makeover for months now… its doesn’t look promising.

So I make do with small changes, like a new doona cover.

z

small things big impact – crystal bud vase

Day 11 – nothing to report

You heard me correctly. I have nothing new to share.

I blame Chris who came over on the weekend causing me to put all my efforts into cleaning prior to his visit (cause the only time I clean the whole house is when I have visitors), and turning the weekend into a social rather than creative time.

Not that I can complain. He did help me put up the kitchen shelves! So, it was way worth it.

All the rain we’ve been having lately isn’t helping.
I’ll tell you what I did do (besides cleaning). I worked in the garden. But there’s nothing exciting to show for that, unless photos of dirt does it for you.
Last weekend I got my garden helper to dig out all the plants in the narrow casita garden bed. They were all too big for there and I plan to fill it with flowers and bulbs. Then the dogs began to use it as their private sand pit, so I had to put wire over it. Its not much to look at right now.
This weekend, between bouts of rain, I planted some stuff in that little garden bed. Then I risked life and limb to crawl all over the tyre wall and weed and put in new plants. The mom of one of the dogs I groom regularly brought me a heap of plants from her garden and I put them all in. Next spring I’ll have a ton more flowers on that wall to show off.
But today, I have nothing new to share, and I have to pedal like crazy to catch up with my challenge…
Meanwhile I thought I’d share this pretty little vase… I’m not sure what this thing is. I originally thought it was a bottle stopper but its hollow. Wayne suggested its probably a perfume dispenser. Any ideas?

Whatever it was originally, its now a cute little bud vase.

I better go think of something to do!

z

small things big impact – the bathroom gets cleaned out

 
Day 8 – breathing space in the bathroom
Nothing much to show for today… but I did clean the bathroom. Its been months. Seriously. I’d clean the sink and shower but things just piled up on all the surfaces… today I went in there and gave it a good clean and tidy. I even went through the medicine cabinet and my makeup and tossed out anything that was old and not used.
Except for my perfume. I don’t use it often but I do love it when I do.
Since our bathroom is a disgrace, I’m only sharing tiny bits of it at once cause its like the funniest joke in the world (according to Monty Pythons Flying circus). You can only be shown one bit at a time for your own safety.
Above are my wire ducks. Love those things. They hold soap bars on the middle shelf I put up a couple of years ago.

The bottom shelf holds two wire baskets I got from… you guessed it! A tip shop! They hold hand towels and bathmats.

Or they do when I do the washing…

The top shelf holds my collection of bottles. Most of them are old bottles I dug up from a corner of my yard in Fentonbury.

Below the shelves, in the corner the bathtub used to be in, is a big square basket I’m using as our laundry basket. I lined it (badly) with some grain sacks. One day I’ll get some ticking and do a better job.

A little air plant lives in a tiny galvanised planter given to my by a friend. The fat pig is a Chinese good luck symbol.

At least that’s what I was told.

I have quite a few old tins in the bathroom, and a few enamel mugs. The tins are purely decorative but I use the mugs. I also use the old wooden caddy to keep stuff looking tidy. (It only works till we use the bathroom next).

Wayne keeps his stuff in the old timber medicine cabinet I refinished years ago.

The rest of the little tin collection sits on top of the medicine cabinet. This cabinet was in the office (which was a bedroom back then) when we bought the house. How odd.

All in all, I feel better about our ugly bathroom. I threw out a bag of stuff and its much less cluttered.
z

not too much of a good thing

There’s one thing you can definitely say about my blog – I never flood you with posts!

I’m a considerate blogger. I don’t bury my followers in post after post, making it hard for them to keep up with all the things happening in my life while they let things in their lives slide.

Yeah right.

More like I just don’t always have interesting things to share. I mean, do you really care that I recently remembered that I know the words to La Marseillaise but didn’t actually know what they meant till I googled it? (Pretty bloody actually.) That I can pledge allegiance to the American flag when I’m not American? That I can quote entire scenes from Monty Python movies?

My brain is full of trivia and stuff.

Not all of it useful.

One of my workmates said she’d really like to look inside my head sometimes, but I’m sure not everyone feels that way… according to Wayne its like an explosion in an op shop in there, and he should know. He has to live with me.

There’s a million ideas and plans in there, all in a jumble. Kinda like a hard drive which saves bits of files here, there and everywhere. The main problem is finding and sorting the bits into some order, then putting realistic timeframes on them. It overwhelms me.

I’m not really good at that.

I’m great at collecting things (thank you Pinterest for giving me a backup for my brain), but not good at prioritizing.

I work in spits and spurts. I get an idea and do it. I get another idea and it remains locked in my head for years till I do something about it, if ever.

Eg: the chests of drawers I did recently which I lived with for years till I felt the need to work on them. The wardrobe (will share soon) is the same. The kitchen shelves… still in my head.

Yet sometimes I’ll get a sudden rush of blood to the head and I’ll hare off and start cutting wood and pounding nails.

And usually these spur of the moment jobs are ones that weren’t even on the To Do list.

So, since I have nothing much to say of value right now, I thought I’d share some pretty photos of the garden before things hibernate for winter.

Succulents in a rusty galvanised bucket.

Armeria in a rusty ammo box with a metal poodle.

A rusty seat with some succulents I tossed a corner near the garage.

A rusty bin with succulents.
A steamer pot with an interesting succulent. 
Have you noticed I have a lot of succulents? They’re the only things that survive the hot sun on the porch. One project on the muddled To Do list in the hard drive that is my brain is a shelf outside the kitchen window for my succulent collection…
Ok. That sentence actually made sense inside my head…
The cute timber shed garden patch is beginning to look like it was meant to be there.

I’m inordinately proud of my delphiniums. I got the seeds and when nothing happened I tossed the pot into the garden. A year later I got flowers!

Another surprise was the nigella which appeared near the garage this year though I never had it before.

The old wood heater from the shed is now a home for many succulents, on top and inside.

Our yard might not be the prettiest one around, with the weeds in the lawn and the bald spots where I poisoned them, but I love my flowers and the little pockets of rusty pieces I’ve created.
I enjoy my garden.
z

oil painting the cheat way – photoshop filter

I’ve always been good at using Photoshop to manipulate images – notice my new banner? I created that using a photo I took of the old typewriter on the porch, type and 2 vintage poodle images.

I’ve always been able to play with pictures to create all kinds of things, from simple alterations like removing or adding a person, taking liberties with colours, or creating something entirely fictional. I enjoy doing it and, if I was to be completely honest, I also enjoyed the knowledge that not everyone can do that kind of stuff.

Then I found picmonkey and it was so easy to adjust colours and add effects, I kind of forgot about Photoshop for a while. All I did was resize, crop and add the occasional effect to images for a long time.

That is, till recently when I got Adobe CS6 on my laptop. Now I’ve started doing stuff with PS again and remembering why I loved it. Like the Christmas and New Year’s cards. Those were quick and easy, removing type and creating backgrounds where I needed them… but doing something like the banner, that’s way more fun.

I used to do a lot of that type of thing for websites, but I don’t design websites for people any more. Here’s one I designed for my poodle website years ago, using 4 separate images: a photograph of a drawing I’d done of my first standard poodle (Pagan), some pastels, a background and a photo I took of Pagan at a show.

But I digress. I was posting to share an amazing effect I found in Photoshop that I’d never known before. Its called Oil Paint and its under Filters.

Here are some pics I played with – the mist in the hills opposite our place on a hot rainy day. Before:

After:

I really love the way it interprets the trees. I want to paint like that!
Here’s another one, a portrait of Montana, before:

After:

Ok, pretty good but definitely not its strong point.

It really comes into its own when you do something like this – the trellis in the yard with rusty chains, the birdhouse I made and an old lantern. Before:

After:

I love this one especially. Amazing isn’t it? Like professional illustrations.
This one’s great too – the old kid’s bike near the trellis. Before:

And after:

I don’t know whether to be thrilled or depressed about this discovery. I LOVE the effect. I love the pop arty colours and the swirliness of it. I love the curly leaves and way everything looks spot on perfect.

But I’m depressed too. Cause why would anyone need to paint any more when you can do this type of thing to your photos with a filter?

Sigh.

z