It’s autumn

Well, it is autumn for about 3 weeks now, but London has been sunny and warm(ish), which is as unusual and wonderful. My orchids have flower buds and look very happy outside. Until this evening. The wind is blowing like a jet engine and one of the plants jumped from the box where it lives, so I carefully accommodated the poor thing on the floor and I hope tomorrow they haven’t been all blown to the other side of town.

On another note, I’ve been busy later. I had a very, very, veeeeeryyyy boring piece of work on Law and Ethics in Pharmacy to finish and I still have college work to do but who cares? crochet is a lot more interesting (anything is a lot more interesting than homework, if you ask me). I’ve made a few things and if I don’t have to chase my plants in Whitechapel I will post pictures of everything. So fingers crossed.

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Yarn bowls

I typed ‘yarn bowl’ on Etsy… why did I do it??

They are SOOO GORGEOUS!!! I want one with my name and one it flowers and one with butterflies and one that says ‘crochet’ and one that says ‘knit’ in case I really fall in love with knitting one day…

Have a look for yourself. I’m sure they will look wonderful as centre-piece on my coffee table. When I have a coffee table and a living room to go with it, of course.

Re-blogging: Homemade Christmas Ideas | Handmade Scandinavian Christmas

Homemade Christmas Ideas | Handmade Scandinavian Christmas.

 

I don’t need to say much. Just have a look at the first picture, on top of the page. Those tea lights with knitted covers are so simple, but the effect is cosy, warm and I love it. Maybe I’ll get my needles sorted and try something simple to brush up my knits and purls.

And the crochet napkin rings can be done in a snap.

That’s why I love Christmas. There are so many things that can be done for this time of the year. People may celebrate it for religious reasons, just because is on the calendar, or because they really love Father Christmas. Whatever the reason is, there’s a different feel to December, just because it’s Christmas time. And we have excuses to do things we otherwise wouldn’t.

To find motivation…

Sometimes I have a peek at people’s profiles on Ravelry. Just for the fun of it, ecause they use a different word and I want to know where they are talking from or, most likely, to check if they are talking about double crochet stitches or treble stitches (for the non-crochet readers, they can be the same thing or not, it depends if the person is talking in American crochet terms or British terms). By peeking I mean I just hover my little arrow over their avatar, not a full check. It usually gives me more information, like the number of projects people have.

Now, I know each person has a different relationship with her/his hobby. Some people have more timethan others. And some may have more motivation than others. I just found someone with 250+ projects. I didn’t check her projects page o find out if they are all finished and if they are all tiny and quick or even if they are fibre related. That’s not my point. My point is that there are people out there who just do A LOT of crochet. And some knit, too. And bake. And have children. All at the same time! 

Then why not me? I confess I’m struggling to blog, to crochet and even to cook. Sometimes I’m super motivated but too tired. Or just relaxed and feel fine, but then I’m rushing somewhere or have something  more urgent to do. And when I have time and am relaxed I’m not motivated. 

I don’t know what this people with kids, dogs and full on hobbies do to keep it all up to date, but I do need to find something that motivates me. There is not much I can do about work, college and other commitments, so it is just motivation left. And don’t take me wrong, I love my crochet, i have lots of ideas and things I want to try. I just can’t seem to get myself to do it. Perhaps now that the nights are drawing in and I can have lots of tea and hot chocolate I can increase my levels of activity.

Of one thing I’m sure: last year I produced a lot more. My life has changed a lot in the last year, but I think the changes made it better, more comfortable in a lot of ways. So surely I should have been more successful, right? Maybe I should include other achievements and see if the new point of view cheers me up a bit.

 

Christmas is almost nearly there…

Yes, almost, but not quite. 

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. The 1st of December is the day to prepare the house. A good clean, room is made for all my decorations and the tree is put up. A tiny tree, artificial, but still a Christmas tree. And glass decorations. 

And although I’ve been doing some serious crochet I have never managed to make any Christmas decorations for myself. I’ve made some snowmen for a friend last year in return for a facebook game thing, but that was it. This year, even with all the uncertainties regarding Christmas time, I’m prepared. I’ve been making crochet wreaths, from this pattern. I have smaller rings, so I adapted the pattern. They are cute, fast, easy and large enough for some beads, ribbons and even some jingle bells, which I’ve found in a little shop in Luton, so there is where I’m going to source my materials, now and contribute to local, small business. 

And here they are:

They look like huge earrings!

I know, they are ‘naked’. They will receive some bling soon but they are already looking Christmasy! 

 

Clown’s Pants

Since I bought 9 balls of Rico Creative Cotton, one in each colour, to make baby shoes for Luiza, I’ve been tempted to play with colours. I love cushions, blankets and afghans made in colourful granny-squares I see on Ravelry. Joined together in cream or white, they have a bright and happy look, but are not too heavy on the eyes.

My problem is that I am not exactly the kind of person who matches blue and orange, or green and red and think it looks good. I’m not bold like that.  I go for the safe dark or plain coloured items. And never the bright colours, no sir, apart from some pink baby dresses and stuff like that, but always with some white or just shades of pink.

This week I had the perfect excuse. On Sunday I remembered I needed a birthday present and didn’t have a clue what to buy. I wouldn’t have time either. But the birthday girl loves tea pots and I promised her a cosy a while ago (not sure if she remembers, but I do). When I asked if she’d like colourful or plain she gave the right answer: colourful.

Well, this is what I made.

On the colourful side =D

A little flower on the top.

A button to hold things in place. 

Ok, I didn’t put as much white or beiges as I should have, but since it’s a small item I thought it would be fine like that. My other half said “it is as colourful as a clown’s pants”. Well, I have never seen a clown’s pants, but I imagine they might be, let’s say… not boring.

I’ve decided to make some coasters to go with it, as a set.

Matching coasters to make it complete

Matching coasters to make it complete

I made granny-flowers, from granny circles with scalloped edges. I like them. The colours match the sequence of colours I used in the pot cosy.

The cosy pattern I’ve found here and the coasters are from the same blog, this post.

I have detailed notes (well, on my own gibberish) on the project page on Ravelry because I loved it so much I want one, too. It is very bright, I know, but I think it goes well with the white tea pot. It was really difficult to photograph, though. The orange lit up so much I thought I wouldn’t have any decent photos to post. Lots of experience gained from this one.

=D

Picnic Cake

My experiment with colourful cake was good, tasted lovely but I’ll have to try again to get better, clearer colours. It made a good change from the plain looking (and a bit boring) cake and maybe natural colouring such as blueberry sauce or beetroot juice would make it even better. A cake that turns out more compact in texture would show the colours more vividly, too. I am very happy with it and with the new ideas this experiment gave me. Must write them down soon.
Now, before photos and recipe, one note:  as I (perhaps) mentioned in the previous post, this is a family recipe. It comes all the way from Brazil and we do thing a bit more…shall we say… spontaneously there. There are cups and grams in the recipe, so prepare your scales AND your set of measuring cups. I bought mine very cheap at Wilkinsons. If you don’t have a set of measuring cups and spoons, use a measuring jug: one cup = 250mL (approximately enough)
And finally, the tin. Traditionally, our cakes recipes back there are larger than the ones I’ve seen in UK books and sites, so think a large savain tin. I bought mine from a corner shop when I was living in east London, but I think any shop that sells kitchen stuff will have one, most likely in silicone, nowadays.

Picnic Cake
You will need:

3 eggs, whites separated from the yolks
2 cups of sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of cornflour
1 cup of milk (I used skimmed mil and it works fine)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
a pinch of salt

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Before you start, have you oven on at around 200o.C (you know your oven, so adjust if needed) and grease and flour your tin.

Start by whisking the egg whites, preferably with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks form. The ideal ‘stiffness’ is achieved when you turn the bowl upside down and the whites don’t run or fall. Do this carefully. Keep it in the fridge while you prepare the batter.

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In a separate, large bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the butter and keep the mixer on, until creamed (it won’t get a super creamy texture, but it will be a bit fluffier).

Sift the dry ingredients together. Still beating, add the dry mixture alternating with milk. You may need a bit more or a bit less milk than the one cup. Turn off the mixer.

Fold in the whisked egg whites. Now this bit can be a bit tricky because you need to mix all the whites into the batter without losing too much air. BBC has a short video with a good technique to fold in flour, but that can be applied to fold in egg whites.

If you want your cake plain, just pour the batter into the prepared tin, then into the oven and in about 40 minutes, when the smell fills your house, it’s time to do the traditional skewer test. Before you open the oven have a peek through the glass to see if the cake is well risen and golden on top.

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If you want, you can do a marble cake (as I did) by separating a portion, or portions, of the batter and adding chocolate powder or food colouring of your choice to each portion. After pouring the plain batter into the tin, tip the coloured portion carefully, distributing the batter all around the tin. Use a fork or knife to swirl the coloured batter into the plain batter and create the marble effect.

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Another variation is to add chocolate sprinkles t the batter and turn your cake into an anthill cake (yes, that’s how we call it….). Or add flavouring, like almond or orange extract.

If you give it a go come back and let me know!

PS: I’m getting acquainted with posting photos, and my kitchen has no natural light, so I can only apologise for the poor quality of the snaps. =)