Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simply Grey

I am a trained teacher, and worked long enough in education. Almost every teacher will agree: even though you have a secret favorite, and maybe aren’t on very good terms with some of the students, but in the end, you love them all. Just differently. And the same applies to colors. When asked about my favorite color, I’m always at a loss – I don’t love ALL of them, but I have hard time to pick only one. If I say ‘royal blue’, them immediately yellow comes to mind. If I say ‘green’, I feel I’m betraying deep red. And so on. Take grey: it has always been on my list, just the last 6-8 years due to various life circumstances it was … well… not very present. So now, I guess, it’s compensating for all those years in exile. Namely, it has taken over. I’ve realized it when taking photos of my recent craft projects for this post. Just look for yourself:
  • grey hats for my men, big and small
  • dark grey table runner
I have a elaborate here a bit: the Christmas tree on the right (yes, it’s a Christmas tree) was built by my DB from our son’s Lego pieces. Big boys like to play, too :)
  • dark grey pillow cover with a grey linen back. I’ve mastered zipper installation with this one, thanks to a marvelous tutorial from Design Sponge! I’ve made 3 pillow cases already, and it worked like a charm!
DSCN0172 Zipper view :)
  • grey and white checkered cloth napkins
On New Year’s Eve we are hosting a small party. Guess, which color scheme I’ve chosen for that one? In case you are having a hard time, I tell you: silver. Now, I’m wondering: is it a reaction to the red and green Christmas? Or just to the red and orange colors of my son’s pram?
And what color is YOUR Christmas?
This one more time I link to My Creative Space.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

As You Like It_Neckwarmer pattern

DSCN0141-00119.12.2012:  I've updated the pattern, adding the US needle numbers throughout, and measurements in inches, too. Sorry for confusion!

I needed a neckwarmer that will fit easily under jacket, something in the turtleneck style. The first attempt became too sloppy and too long, and simply didn’t want to lie as I wanted. As it turned out, the answer was changing to bulkier yarn and bigger needles. What I could never imagine in my wildest dreams, is that I would finish the neckwarmer in half a day!
It is knitted topdown, starting with thinner needles. After ribbing the simple knit and purl pattern is knitted with bigger needles. Several rows of ribbing finish the neckwarmer, and increases make it flare a bit. To make it lie better, I’ve used even larger needles to bind off. The stitch pattern is completely reversible, you can easily turn the collar down if necessary, and it’s long enough to pull over the nose if polar temperature arrives. If you prefer a straight neckwarmer, use the same needles throughout and omit the increases in the end.

Finished size: 30 cm/12" upper circunference, unstretched, 20 cm/8" length
Suggested yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 70, 2 skeins, gauge 14 st x 4"
Needles 5/US 8 and 6/US 10, 7/US 10 3/4 (optional )
Stitch marker
Abbreviations:k- knit
p - purl
kfb - knit forth and back
pfb - purl forth and back
CO - cast on
BO - bind off
R - round
Stitch pattern (multiple of 10):
R 1: k5, p5
R 2: k5, p5
R3: k4, p1, k1, p4
R 4:  k4, p1, k1, p4
R 5:  k4, p1, k1, p4
R 6: k4, p1, k1, p4
R 7: k3, p2, k2, p3
R 8: k3, p2, k2, p3
R 9: k2, p3, k3, p2
R 10: k2, p3, k3, p2
R 11: k1, p4, k4, p1
R 12: k1, p4, k4, p1
R 13: p5, k5
R 14: p5, k5
R 15: p5, k5
R16: p5, k5
R 17: p4, k1, p1, k4
R 18: p4, k1, p1, k4
R 19: p3, k2, p2, k3
R 20: p3, k2, p2, k3
R 21: p2, k3, p3, k2
R 22: p2, k3, p3, k2
R 23: p1, k3, p3, k1
R 24: p1, k3, p3, k1
Instructions:(I’ve divided the pattern into 3 sections only for convenience of explanation)
Section 1: With needles nr 5/US 8, CO 90 st, join to knit in the round, put a marker for beginning of round. Repeat rounds 1-2 of the stitch pattern, until work measures 5 cm/2".
Section 2:Change to needles 6/US 10 and  knit one pattern repeat.
Section 3: Knit rounds 1-4 once. Note: Before increases my cowl measured about 15 cm/6", hope this helps since I give no row gauge!
R 5:  K 2, kfb, k 2, p 2, pfb, p 2. Continue in k 6, p 6 rib for another 10 rounds, or until the neckwarmer measures 21 cm/8". BO loosely, alternatively with needles 7/US 10 3/4.
Wash and block if desired, pat the wet neckwarmer somewhat together to keep the three-dimensional look.
Sorry, the coat hanger models, since I’m not in a good shape yet after surgery. The neckwarmer on picture hasn't been blocked yet!
DSCN0139 DSCN0138
Please note that this is a free pattern, use it for gifts and charity, but please don’t sell items made with this pattern.
Don't hesitate to contact me if something is unclear or you find mistakes!
Ravelry link

Friday, December 14, 2012

On Motherhood

I am what the older generation would call “old mother” – I was 33 when my son was born. People often think that getting children later in life is better, you are more mature, sick and tired of going around the bars and long for spending evenings at home. Well, sort of. In other words, you are READY. But what no one tells the wish-to-be parents is that from the moment your bundle of joy utters her first cry you will be deprived of the most everyday thing: privacy and time for yourself. Yes, undisturbed nocturnal sleep is also on the list. Ah, sleep… the whole point of my writing this post is my own one-night insomnia. This night of all nights, when my boy is safely tucked in bed by his grandmother. Go to sleep! But it’s TOO QUIET. Even the cat is not making her pointless noises she has perfected over the years. So often, being a SAHM, I long for the moments when my boy will be dispatched to his grandmother (he doesn’t go to the kindergarten, yet) and I can try to squeeze one thousand and one tasks like thorough spring cleaning whatever the season plus basement reorganization in one day. And take a stress-free shower. And read a newspaper. And do things that are far too private to mention that publicly but which every toddler mom will kill for to do alone. And what happens? The moment I kiss him goodbye I miss him, so terribly as if he were miles away. I go to his room to hug his pillow when I make his bed, breathing his sweet little boy scent. When I go out, I feel suddenly so empty-handed without the pram. I almost envy the women who sport one!
These rare times I get for myself are indeed very productive, whatever I choose to do then. But it’s oh so  bittersweet.
Tomorrow I will go downtown, with my handbag hanging on my arm instead of the pram for a change. But I will look forward to Sunday, when I will hear the door lock click and a cheery little voice shout “Hallo!” (his favourite word right now). I will look forward to the day my normal life starts again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Red Riding Hood and Co Knitting Patterns

When it comes to knitting for children, there are some items that have been along for longer than my own childhood and are still going strong. Take hats, for example. For a kid, it’s not enough that it covers the top of the head. If it covers the ears well, we are already getting somewhere. If it stays put with all the squirming and running and jumping the little people are so prone to, it’s a WINNER. At least in my universe. I can still remember a bonnet-like hat my Mum knit for me when I was a child (I have a strong suspicion that the one I remember is one of the many) – it was indeed practical, keeping toasty everything it should, and not getting of too easily :) Rewind years ahead, and here I sit, making a similar hat for my own son, a well-pronounced hat-hater, but he still has to wear them. It’s a vintage pattern, and versions of it are numerous, I’ve decided to share my take at it, may be other Mums will find it just as useful.  And since there is a hat, there has to be a scarf. Or at least a neckwarmer. My Mum had it covered, too – she simply knit the hat on, creating a collar to cover the chest. But I wanted JUST A HAT and JUST A NECKWARMER, separately. Here I was stalled for a while, as I wanted to knit it top down, flare a bit but not be bulky on the shoulders. Finally, I managed to squeeze something out that even proved to be wearable! The neckwarmer pattern follows after the hat. Word of warning: I’ve needed JUST a smidge over 2 balls, and, in fact, ran out of yarn, so consider having some similar weight yarn at hand unless you want to invest in one extra skein.
The hat’s construction is extremely simple and very easy to adjust to any size possible – even for an adult! (at the end of the post I will share a simple formula for this kind of hat).  The hat starts in a straight strip that goes around the head, ear to ear, and the back part is, basically, turning a heel of the sock, though without any wraps and picking them up later, so it’s a good beginner pattern. In the end two… ehem… fake I-cords are added to tie under the chin. The skills you have to possess are knitting and purling, and picking up stitches – there’s a little bit of it at the end. And that’s all! My hat was designed to fit my 1,5 year old son, with a head circumference of 49 cm (I have no idea, if it’s a typical size or he’s a bit ahead, no pun intended), this should be a good reference, anyway.
K- knit
P – purl
k2tog/p2tog – knit 2 stitches together/purl 2 stitches together
CO – cast on
BO – bind off
st- stitch(es)
RS – right side
WS – wrong side
PM – place marker
kfb – knit forth and back (stitch increased)
Size: 1,5 –2 years, or 49 cm head circumference
Material: Cool Wool from Lana Grossa, I’ve used slightly more than 1 skein,  with the gauge 24 st per 4”/10 cm
Needles 3 and 3,5
3 markers (optional)
Directions: With the smaller needles, CO 94 st.
RS: *k2, p2* , repeat between ** until 2 st remain, k2.
WS: *p2, k2*  , repeat between ** until 2 st remain, p2.
Repeat these 2 rows until your work measures 3 cm, ending on the WS row.
Next row, RS: change to the bigger needles, knit all stitches.
WS: purl all stitches.
Continue in stockinet stitch, until the strip measures 13 cm.
The last WS row is a setup for the back of the hat:
P 31 st, PM, p 31 st, PM, p 29 st, k2tog, p the last st – 93 st. Now you have three equal sections. What you are going to do next, is to knit the last stitch of the central section together with the first stitch of one of the side sections – decreases are done both on RS and WS, alternating the sides. The main idea is that the central section keeps the initial 31 st, while the sides are being consumed. If you see that your central section is losing stitches, you are doing something wrong. I put the markers only for the first row, later on you will get a hole, or the stitches that have to be knit or purled together will be somewhat apart, which eliminates the need for a marker. But! The hole will disappear!
Now starts the fun:
RS: Knit across 65 st (1 st before the 2nd marker), remove the marker, knit the next 2 st together, TURN WORK.
WS: Purl till one stitch before the remaining marker, remove marker, purl the next two stitches together, TURN WORK. 
These two rows are decrease rows, that you have to repeat until you have only the central 31 stitches. You will see the back of the hat now, shaped, indeed, like the heel of the sock.
Now, put the live stitches on a holder and break the yarn. With smaller needles and the RS facing you, join a new yarn, pick up and knit 22 st, on the live stitches work like this: P2tog, P2, *K2, P2*, repeat between ** until the end of the live stitches, pick up and knit 22 st.
WS: *p2, k2* until the last 2 st, p2.
Repeat these 2 rows, until work measures 2,5 cm. CO, apart the last 6 st – they will become the fake I-cord.The reason I resigned to faking an I-cord is that I failed in my precious attempt to make one, and wanted to finish this hat sooner than later. If you are good at I-cord, please, make a real one. I just give instructions for what I did in case I’m not the only one :) Work in stockinet on these 6 st, turning the work as usual, until the strip measures about 46 cm. Next RS row: kn2tog across, turn work, k 3 remaining st together. On the opposite edge of the hat, pick up and knit 6 stitches and make another strip. Sew in the ends, wash and block. And now go and try to put it on the most adored head in the world of your own!
As I’ve promised, here is a formula for this bonnet: you have to measure the recipient’s head from one side of the jaw to another, around the head, that is, not in the usual direction you would measure for a classical hat (is that clear enough? I simply don’t know how else to explain it!). This is the length of the beginning strip. It is usually about 12 cm-14 cm. Here you can measure too: it should be able to cover the part of the head from the brow up to the point it starts to… slope.Then divide your stitches in 3 and proceed according to the pattern. As you see, as long you can get the measures, you can knit such a hat in any size you want!
The neckwarmer is knit in the round first, and then split into 2 pieces that are finished separately, with some increases providing a slight flaring. Due to its seamless construction, it’s reversible.
DSCN0025 DSCN0026
Cool Wool from Lana Grossa, 1 skein
Circular needles nr 3
Stitch marker
CO 78 st, join, being careful not to twist stitches, and put a marker for the beginning of the round. K1, p1 across, until the collar measures 11 cm.
Increase row: kfb, p1 – 117 st
Next row: k1, p2 across (I know, this is not the best way, but I was utterly unwilling to make a purl increase  in the round; and it’s not even noticeable!)
On the split row, I’ve tweaked a bit to get clean edges on both halves: I’ve started on the purl st instead, making it into an edge st. So, p1, k1, p2 across 57 st, finishing with p2, k2. Work in pattern as established, until the piece measures about 20 cm from the CO edge. BO loosely. Finish the other half in the same way, with the only difference that you have 60 st there.
Weave in ends, wash and block. Done!
If something is unclear or if you find mistakes, I will be happy to help/correct! I really hope I’ve made everything clear enough, but it was kinda tricky to try to explain something after having knitted it!
Ravelry links to the hat and neckwarmer (there you can also see some modelled pics).
And, since I’m shameless and after self-promotion, I connect to Our Creative Spaces today (it’s a great source of inspiration, anyway)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Creative Space_Cottage Cheese Bake

I have several knitting and sewing projects (in progress…), but they all linger in their respective baskets, and are way too unfinished to photograph and write about them. So this time I reside to just browsing all the wonderful projects other crafters share – a highly inspiring activity! In return, I will share a family recipe, passed on to me by my Mum. It’s a bake with cottage cheese as a base, and is very versatile – you can make it either sweet or savory, depending on other ingredients. This was a popular dish at our house when I was a child, and now I make it often for my son. Cottage cheese provides protein, and added fruits or veggies the vitamins – just what mummies are looking for!
Here is my basic recipe: 
500g/18 oz cottage cheese, 3 tbsp sugar (or less, if you are against sugar), 3 eggs, 5 tbsp semolina. Yes, that’s all!
Mix the cottage cheese with sugar, add eggs, better one by one, and finally the semolina. Mix everything well, add raisins, or fresh berries (the picture version was with fresh blueberries, oh so yummy!), or grated apples/carrots – whatever you know you little ones like! Pour everything into a buttered heatproof form and bake at 200°-220°C/390-420F for some 20-30 minutes (sorry about being so approximate, but ovens vary so much, you should see that the top is getting yellow and the edges brown a bit, just like when baking cakes!). Let it cool a bit, cut up and serve!

Don't forget to check all the craftiness here!

I'm happy to see that someone already wants to try the recipe! There's only one little BUT here: cottage cheese I'm talking about here is of this variety:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Creative Space_An Accomplished Woman

Feng shui or not, but an accumulation of WIPs doesn’t make you feel better. Trust me, I’m, talking from experience. I had quite a pile of projects, basically finished, but not blocked, with ends so long you could think they are going to take root one day, not seamed… My first excuse was lack of space (due to moving). Then I got mighty lucky and was presented by another excuse: hot weather, and that for almost whole summer. I mean, really, who needs woolen socks and vests when it’s +30°C outside??? No one. Exactly. But they were really bugging me, those unfinished things, called so glamorously WIPs (a very clever psychological maneuver, actually, almost like putting a 9,99 $ price on something – your head tells you it’s basically 10 $, but your heart whispers 9$ and off you go; and those WIPs bring you to thinking of a VIP lounge, don’t they?)

Anyway, my luck turned and weather cooled off something, I managed to find some place for drying, and what a RELIEF it was to get them done. I’ve almost felt like a classical accomplished woman a la Jane Austen.

SO, without much further ado, let me proudly present my FOs:
This cowl was started originally as a scarf, but I didn’t like the look of it, and sewed up the ends. Much better! It was crocheted lengthwise, in simple shells pattern, yarn is variegated Regia 4-ply, I used almost exactly 2 balls!
Another sock yarn creation, a simple vest for my little guy (now 1,5 years), knitted bottom-up in the round in 3x1 rib, and then finished separately. I knitted a similar one for him when he started crawling, and it proved the most useful item in his wardrobe. It’s easy to wash, variegation of the yarn is very forgiving to stains and it’s warm without being heavy! Besides, washing it in shampoo (if it’s good for the hair, it should be good for the wool, right?) made it very soft and not scratchy at all. What else can a mother want except one more vest?
And just a pile of hand knit socks. The last ones are for my boy :) These socks were my knittotherapy – I was working on them when all around me were boxes and piles of stuff to be sorted out and either packed or thrown away in preparation for the move. I had several WIPs on my hands, but simply couldn’t face anything more complicated that stockinette, and that in small portions. I managed to challenge myself on a small scale, though – every pair of socks is somehow different. One has a short row heel (not my favourite, and I haven’t mastered it really yet), others don’t sport any fancy stitches, but I did throw in some knit/purl playing around. They turned out nice, if I say so myself!
And how long do YOU let your project sit unfinished?

More creative spaces here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Creative Space_Sky is the Limit

Almost watercolor sky
Like-minded people think alike, right? Just last week, preparing my My Creative Space post, I was debating with myself if I should write down a recipe instead of a routine knitting/sewing thing, kitchen is a creative space too, after all! In the end sewing won, as I wanted also to show off my new towels. And then I open Kirsty’s post for the week and bang! what she suggests if not thinking about all the other places we do get creative! Well, the last week post was about sewing all right, but this week I change my direction.
Besides, this week’s challenge is my top tip for staying creative. The first thing that came into my mind was keep going, keep making stuff, try something new – but it all seemed so banal, so everyone-knows-that-already and, most of all, not really me. And I realized that when my creative springs run dry, I go backwards, into the past. Look through the photos I took maybe years ago, remember the sweaters I knit so many years ago I don’t even want to count them. And believe me, the effect is close to a kick in the butt. IF I COULD DO IT THEN´, WHY CAN’T I DO SOMETHING EVEN BETTER NOW????? is the inevitable question. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
The recipe has to wait for another round, I’m afraid. This time it’s going to be photography, another dream of mine, for realization of which I don’t really have time right now (does it sound as lame to you as to me?) I do try, but it’s lots of baby (who became a toddler in the meanwhile) photos in chaotic domestic surroundings recently. If you are a fan of portrait photos, I’m sorry, I’m not your guy. I’ve always been fascinated by landscapes. And the sky. I grew up deep in the North, where in summer the sun goes down only for a couple of hours. It simply doesn’t get dark, you have a summer of perpetual day. Unfortunately, at that time my camera was totally incapable of capturing THAT sky. Many years later and a different camera, I decided to try my hand at some sky photography, in town. Here are some pictures taken two years ago (sorry, nothing recent!), but every time I look at them I remember how much fun I had in the process! (For those interested in technical details: Nikon CoolPix P100, edited in Picasa, as I I don’t have the Photoshop).
Sky over Hauptbahnhof_changed
Piece of town sky_changed
Deep blue sky
And my heavily edited favorite, it looks… electric, don’t you think?
Electric sky
Head over here to read more tips for staying creative!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Creative Space_Bearing Gifts

You know, a question like Who doesn’t like to get presents? just a little while ago was … hmm… rhetorical. Now It’s turning realistic. The number of people warning their friends BEFOREHAND that they actually don’t want any presents seems to be growing. (Though I have to say, I’m never sure if they really don’t want any presents or it’s their idea of being nice and considerate, in the times of financial crisis. Whatever). But I simply can’t bear turning up at a birthday party or, even worse, a wedding party empty-handed. It just seems rude, to me, at least. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned? Or the people around really have it ALL? And then I remembered a discussion I had with an acquaintance of mine, about crafting some, say, 30-40  years ago and today. Before women used to knit/sew a lot often because it was cheaper or you simply couldn’t find what you wanted. Today we craft to get something UNIQUE, that stands out of the crowd (and it’s not necessarily cheaper than buying, but that’s another discussion altogether). So now, when I feel baffled with the choice of a perfect gift, I think about something handmade, original, at the same time practical, that will tickle the recipient or simply will brighten the day a bit.
I’m really happy I started sewing, as we’ve been experiencing rather tropical temperatures lately (though it has cooled off a bit now), and I’m not in the fan club, I am not. I don’t like cold, either, for me it’s all about moderation. I should have been born in Sweden – they have a WORD in Swedish, lagom, which means … well, just in the middle, moderate. You know, the magic  balance, not too much, not too little. But I’m deviating (as usual), let’s get back to gifts I’ve been laboriously creating lately :)
I was so blown away by these dishtowels from Purl Bee, that I decided to make my own, with coarse linen I bought at IKEA, and some trim band and lace – the last too were literally BREATHING Alpine charm. Let me tell you, I LOVE linen. Before I loved it in (store-bought) clothes, it’s simply indispensible for summer, but for home… a bit expensive. Especially dishtowels. Even for gifts.  The linen I’ve used is cheaper, as it’s the coarse variety (I’ve did some cross stitching on this kind of linen when I was young and my eyesight was better; not many years ago at all), and I actually have no idea whatsoever how absorbent it is, as I’ve cut it all up for the towels and haven’t left any scrap to test, but I think they will be used mostly as decoration by the recipient, anyway. But it is perfect if you are after  a somewhat rustic look for your kitchen. Ahh, they turned out lovely!
Here’s the trim/lace:
The hangers are in fact done with the help of a tutorial I’ve found some time ago, but I haven’t saved the link, alas! The idea is however very simple – you just tuck in the ends of the twill tape (or whatever you are using for a hanger) DIAGONALLY when you are hemming the towel, let’s say, top and left side. Very easy and very practical. I like in particular that there’s no hanger sticking out.
I’ve got so carried away by these towels, that I made another set, in lovely soft waffle fabric (actually I was planning just simple towels for myself, but so happy I changed my mind!):
And here is a small make-up bag, doubling as a present package in this case, made for my DB’s niece. She’s 15 now, and pretty often she gets money or a gift card, which is not that bad, at least she can choose what she really likes. But in the long run, it’s boring. Wouldn’t you be bored too? She has decorated her room recently, in trendy purple-green color combo, and I had a pale lilac linen and a sweet polka dot cotton in my stash already, so I guess it’s a rather practical item however it will be used… I love the green zipper!
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I still have some fabric and bright yellow trim left, but I think these towels will be for me:
If you haven’t got enough of picture overload, more creative spaces you find here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Alle gute Dingen sind DREI

three black cats
I blog a lot, though mostly in my head, while my hands are busy with house work or knitting. So, while I was knitting away on my Clapotis, a blog post started to form in my head, a post on numerology. Why that, all of a sudden? Yes, sometimes the connections between my thoughts may seem far-fetched, but bear with me. The truth is, that this is already THIRD time around I start on this pattern, and only this time it seems it’s working. Third time is a charm, huh? And it dawned on me, that I’m surrounded my number 3, at least when it comes to all things creative:
  • My favorite (and most frequently used) needle number is 3 (European), the same goes for crochet hook – the best knitting/crocheting results I’m getting with this number
  • My favorite stitch length for sewing is, in fact, 3
  • As I’ve already said, I’ve started a scarf 3 times, and on the third attempt the knitting gods most probably got so sick of me, that they let me go on with the project
  • When I see fabric on sale and am not sure, how much I will need (having no particular project in mind), I buy (ya, you got it!) 3 meters
  • I have several sets of glasses with only 3 pieces (they were more earlier, but broke…)
  • Well, there’s one more thing, not related to crafting and private, but it’s also 3
  • In fact, the list can go on for quite a while…
After a while I’ve got so wound up by curiosity, that I had to abandon dropping the stitches (I’m already on the straight rows section!) and go check the meaning of number 3. Imagine my surprise, when I found this (source:
Three: The spiritual meaning of number Three deals with magic, intuition, fecundity, and advantage. The number Three invokes expression, versatility, and pure joy of creativity. Three is also a time identifier as it represents Past, Present and Future. Consecutive Threes in your life may symbolize the need to express yourself creatively, or consider your present directional path in relation to past events and future goals. Three may also represent promising new adventures, and assurance of cooperation from others whom you may require help. Three typically symbolizes reward and success in most undertakings.
Apart other meanings, isn’t creativity mentioned quite a lot here?
As for the Clapotis, every 8th row (out of 12) I’m getting my fair portion of fun, unraveling a single stitch all the way down. It’s a lovely pattern, indeed, and it’s mindless enough to be able to watch TV a bit more attentively (believe me, the last thing I’m seeking right now is excitement in knitting, I get so much of it (excitement, not knitting) somewhere else). And I’m really loving how it’s turning out! It’s working really well with self-striping yarn (do i really have to say here I’m knitting with nr 3 needles?)
And what’s YOUR magic number?
P.S. The title of the post is in German, as I simply couldn’t get this sentence out of my head. it just means Third time is a charm, or, more literally, All good things come in threes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eat Your Veggies Cottage Pie


Long time, no blogging. Though it was loooots of knitting, in the midst of all the chaos typical for moving house-situation. But knitting has to wait a bit, since most of the things are unblocked (perfectionist as I am, the project is a WIP until it has been blocked. I even weave in ends first time after blocking).

To get myself into a blogging modus after such a long hiatus, I’ll start with a recipe, kids- and adult friendly to boot – enter Cottage Pie. There are loads of recipes for it on the internet, in books and everywhere else, but I’d like to share my (highly unique?) version of it, packed with vegetables and pretty light. It was tested today by a 16-months old guy, and the verdict was – ya, Mum, you can do it again some time (well, that’s my free translation anyway).

Cottage pie as I know it is nothing else than a meat sauce covered with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Let’s start with the meat sauce:

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500 g minced meat (I prefer beef only)

veggies: 1 onion, 2 carrots,1 zucchini,a celery stick

up to 0,5 l vegetable or beef broth

2-3 tbsp tomato puree

I start with sautéing the onion, then add the diced carrots and celery and let them melt a bit together, then tip the zucchini in. Add the meat, broth and tomato puree. Let the sauce boil up, then reduce the heat and leave it simmer gently for half an hour or so. (I use a similar sauce for lasagna too, often with some aubergines as well – yam!)

In the meanwhile, peel 1 kg potatoes and boil them until soft, then mash with a slab of butter and a few spoons of warm milk – just remember it shouldn’t get as creamy as regular mashed potatoes.

Get your oven warm, 180 °C.


Now the assembly: put the meat sauce at the bottom of an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed potatoes (in my case there was a certain mingling of meat and potatoes, but it didn’t spoil anything in the end; it helps to use the back of the spoon here). Pop your creation in the oven for some 20 min – pronto!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quotation Wednesday_Thoughts Menu

Once again, I turned to Eat Pray Love - this time a random selection, I've just opened a dog-eared page (and they are MANY) and this is what I've got:

''I can choose my thoughts.''

Another smack on the head. What should I say - have you ever thought THAT possible? Well, it obviously IS possible, though right now it feels like trying to feel relaxed in a most complicated yoga position you take for the very first time after you've spent some months in total immobility (since I've never went too deep into that time-wasting activity, yoga, that is, I don't even know which position it is. I would suggest it has something to do with a dog).

Honestly, I've always had a suspicion that we can control our thoughts at least to a certain degree, though never tried. Laziness, I guess, and unwillingness to give up that little sweet habit so many of us have - feeling sorry for myself. It's like craving chocolate - you know it's not really good for you and barely healthy, but it brings comfort, however dubious. But now it's time to give up chocolate unhealthy thinking, since

''I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.''

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quotation Wednesday_On discontent

I'm still ploughing through Eat Pray Love right now (though ploughing refers to my lack of reading time and not the quality of the book, which is, by the way, superb). The book is already totally dog-eared (I'm prone to that, but only with my own books), but this sentence made me want to rip out the page completely and ... I donno, maybe eat it? So that is stays with me forever? Because otherwise I'm afraid I can occasionally forget it...

I don't mind anything these days. I can't imagine or remember discontent.

Imagine is not the biggest here. Remember is bigger. It's like when you want to quit smoking, or drinking coffee, or popping chocolate into your mouth while going up the hill with the pram with the 10-kg baby inside and thus reducing all your pram-pushing to mere nothingness. Not remembering what pleasure that bad habit of yours used to give you is pure bliss.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Creative Space_Colour Purple

Some simle and still so lovely sewing: small fragrant lavender sachets, with lace on top, in pale lilac. I'm not the biggest fan of such pastel colours, and know almost no one who is, apart one friend of mine. She looooves purple in many shades. Good excuse to make something in this colour! And also an excuse to try my hand at sewing linen. Oh, linen, how I love thee! (though I think you are a bit of a pain in the butt to sew, my pieces, though so tiny, kept shifting). But the end result is wonderful and spreads such a tender smell. For myself, I am picturing lemongrass sachets :)

And here is some planned sewing: kitchen towels in waffle for myself, just plain towels, only to be hemmed, and linen for my Mum, with some Alpine charm borders; a stripy tote from Sew Mama Sew! tut (like a prisoner, remarked my husband about the fabric).

As for the plastic pockets for my sewing-to-do, it's my latest AHA-experience concerning my sewing projects organisation. If I find the time to do some cutting during my son's nap, I put then the cut parts in plastic pockets together with a post-it, wriitng the name of the project and some notes to myself (like Don't forget the hanging tags!; no, I don't think this counts as talking to oneself).

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