Another terribly hot week has passed, in which I was hardly able to do anything seriously craftsy. I am currently just playing couch potato trying my best to keep my blood pressure from plummeting to the floor and just playing dead there. Such heat has always been a problem for me since I was a teenager and time and age did not help to make it better at all.
I was lucky being invited by a colleague and friend to visit her home in the middle of nowhere in Lower Austria for the public holiday on Wednesday. It seemed that we must have been close to Siberia there as temperature was so much better that I even had chilly times (approximately 20 degrees or so) in the morning. The place was huge – and the best thing was the orchard with tons of ripe apples. So I went home with about 2 kg of apples right from (or rather below) the tree ready to be transformed into something totally delicious.
I decided that – given the heat in the city I was returning to – I would rather stick to a quick recipe than do anything fancy. Some short pastry apple pockets and some puff pastry apple strudel. I used the ready to use version of both doughs this time as making them at 30 degrees is not a good idea. The butter really has to stay cold for both of them but the apples just couldn’t wait for cooler weather. The recipe for the filling I picked from Martha Steward’s Pies and Tarts book and I have to say: this lady really knows her art. My hubby does not like cinnamon that much and most apple recipes are loaded with it – but in this filling there is only a hint of it and therefore he has not complained a bit! Also the filling is not sweet at all as there is lemon added and as little sugar as possible. Of course such a recipe depends on the apples used but the ones I have picked have been quite sweet by themselves. The result was a nice sweet and tart little apple paradise!
Another week has passed with about 36 degrees each day. It’s still too hot to seriously crochet, so I decided that beading is just the right craft for this heat wave. I am still in love with Kassie Shaws patterns from “Beading beyond the basics” and have eyed the firewheel spinner pattern for quite some time. I had the dagger beads and the seed beads but not the correct rivoli as a center accent. So I tried out Pontomac Beads Eu that recently opened up and has a huge selection of high quality beads and a real good price. It was amazing how fast they delivered – three days from ordering to delivery! Not even the stores in the UK can beat that. Pontomac definitely has not seen the last of me though I hope that they will stock up to the same size as the US online store. There it’s bead heaven <3. The pattern gave me quite a bunch of gray hair – not because it was written badly but because I was plain too stupid to read the pictogram correctly. I even got my hubby to check, why it does not work, and I have to give him credit that he at least tried to help me figure it out 😂. But as you can see, I was successful in the end and am totally in love with my new pendant.Additionally I got mail delivered last week. I was able to support Etty van Urk, the Cake Dutchess, via Kickstarter to bring her own modelling tools to production. She had a really tough time with them (lots and lots of throwbacks) but now they finally arrived. And I can tell you: they are amazing and are so worth the wait! Not only are they solid stainless steal, they are so well made that you’ll never want to use your cheap plastic tools ever again! The only bad thing is now that the weather is just too hot to try them out. My fingers are itching so much!
At the moment I am in a phase where I just cannot make myself work on something really crafty. I have three crochet projects in progress but every time after work I just am too tired to pick them up. I have at least two beading projects I have bought beads for and I really would love to make but every time I think of starting them, I do not have enough energy to actually do it. Who knows me in person knows that I ALWAYS have something in progress – even when chatting with friends. I cannot hold still and need my hands busy all the time. Now I find myself sitting watching TV and NOT doing anything – and it does not feel good.
So this Sunday I treated myself to sleeping long hours and to making the best breakfast for me and my hubby. Waffles made in the oven with Greek yogurt, berries and a drizzle of caramel syrup. The recipe is actually not mine – I grabbed it out of the internet from Zimt und Kuchenliebe and it is the best waffles recipe ever! Really! Easy to make – the dough is whipped up in less than 10 minutes and backed in only 15 more – with not too much sweetness so that you can add whatever you like to suit your sweet tongue.
In the meantime I also started something new – I just cannot do nothing at all the whole week. I wanted to try diamond painting for quite some time as it is kind of cross stitching with little stones. I was not sure how good the quality of the final picture would be but I just jumped in and ordered some kits. The intention was to put them up on the doors of several rooms in my apartment cause I do not like the plain white doors. The kits finally arrived last week and the first task was to actually check, if all the little stones where delivered. This was tedious work as I picked larger kit sizes (the bigger the pic the better the effect of the pixels) and the little diamonds came in very small packages. Of course I had to try it out – and I just cannot quit any more. It’s addictive to see it grow – even though progress is slow as I just work on it for a short time each day. Quality is pretty good and I love the effect of the diamond pixels coming together – you can really see the little fox by now. Isn’t he cute?
This week was terrible – I just couldn’t motivate myself to work on anything. Don’t know why but sometimes I just need a break from creating. So I had a really lazy week of playing games and reading and watching TV. And then I realized that at the moment I have only long term projects to work on again. And I tend to loose focus on long time projects as it just seems that I don’t get anywhere. A short, easy project – that’s what I needed!
As it was my birthday yesterday I made myself a little, low calory birthday cake. The pattern is from Yarn Blossom Boutique and can be found on Ravelry. The result is super-sweet but when sewing the candle on, I slipped and pricked my finger with the wool needle right under my nail. Hurt like hell and makes holding my project while crocheting pretty hard. I started Zhaya Designs Crafter Granny nevertheless – she kept popping up in my Facebook stream again and again and I just love the idea. I realized that I do not have enough stuffing any more to finish her, so I will need to do a little bit of shopping today.
My hubby spoiled me with a self made birthday dinner that was really excellent – pork curry Madras with rice and a water melon limoncello trifle with almond brittle. This was really special for me as my hubby usually does not cook. He helps me in the kitchen whenever I do the cooking but hardly cooks himself. He helped me afterwards with baking some red velvet whoopie pies with marshmallow buttercreme filling too.
Another week has past and this time I have not been as productive as I would have liked to be. The problem is probably the cold weather – we have snow and freezing temperature right now again and spring seems still a long time away. This makes me want to just snuggle up and fall asleep all day long. I did however try out a new beading technique: Peyote with a twist – not crochet that was invented by Gerlinde Lenz. It’s much easier than crochet as soon as you wrap your brain around the join. The stitch itself afterwards is similar to the classic peyote stitch. You can find detailed instructions and lots of help in her – of course – FB Group. I started with a basic pattern in order to test the technique and used some cheap rocaille beads. Just in case I would mess up totally. I struggled a little with the finish but overall I think it really looks nice. Sadly it ended up a little bit too big, even though I used my Argyle bangle as measurement. It tends to slip of my hand if I don’t take care.
Then there was one entry on my ToDo board that I kept pushing back over the last weeks. But now I was forced to tackle it as it actually is the only one on my list with an actual deadline. Remember me writing about the Cake Duchess Alphabet Collaboration I signed up to last year? Well, the deadline got extended in January but it will expire on the 28th of February. So I just made myself jump over my shadow and tackle it. I needed to stop thinking of how embarassing it would be to totally mess this one up and to confess to everyone that I just couldn’t do it. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. The letter that I had picked was H and I came up with Hare as the thing that stands for this letter. Don’t ask me what made me pick that – have you ever tried to figure out the difference between a rabbit and a hare? I am now an expert in that and probably have read every page on the internet on it. But knowing and modelling are two different things. My hare still looks too much like a rabbit for my taste as I did not bring it to sit up as straight as a hare would. I painted on the fur rather than colouring the modelling paste and I love how it looks. Overall I am really pround of the little fellow.
It’s this time of the year again where you realize that another year is over. That time when you look back on what you did last year and make some resolutions for the next one. So no wonder that I also did some statistics…
2017 definitely was a year for crocheting. I finished one knitted project but 11 crochet project this year. I finished most of my new projects and only created only a couple of WIPs. I collected tons of new patterns, so I am hard pressed to decide in the new year what to work on next. I created three cakes and only baked three times more – most of it at the end of the year. I missed my reading goal of 25 books by four but still happy with the books I have finished this year. I learned three new crafts – bead weaving, needle tatting and kumihimo – about which I have not written yet as almost all of them ended up as Christmas presents and I didn’t want to give away the surprise. Overall when seeing all my projects together I think it was a very poductive year (though I just realized that I missed three projects in my pics …).
Now it’s time to focus on 365 new possibilities. This year I really want to focus a little bit more on sewing again. I have several projects that have been waiting for a year now and I am eager to getting started on them. Of course I still want to finish my crochet WIPs – my Spirits of the Orchid that is coming along nicely and my mosaic shawl that has been waiting for new yarn. I also would like to experiment a little bit combining my arts – crochet and stitching, beading and tatting, sewing and crochet … there is no end to creativity. Also I would love to start with bobbin lace making – just need to get the preparations tackled. And my beading frency is also not over yet. I have tons of patterns I’d love to make for myself.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year – may all your wishes come true, your crafting ressources never be empty and new ideas always at ready. Keep on crafting!
Until now I finished two of five Christmas presents – with that speed I might not be finished on time. Though I am a little time pressured I decided that this week was the kick off of the Christmas baking season. Even though that means a whole weekend preparing dough and baking cookies and therefore not working on my WIPs. I only finished half of all recipes I wanted to make but I am quite proud nevertheless.
I started with one of the recipes that I love every year – stamping cookies. They are very easy to make but taste great and look nice with a festive stamp. Next my hubby wanted me to create some hazelnut truffles based on a recipe of his mother – and as it is a very old recipe it is definitely not suitable for dieting 😂. They taste so great though that you actually have to be very careful only to eat one at a time.
Next I tried some recipes from the book “Cookies” by Cynthia Barcomi. Some thumpprint variations with and without hazelnuts. They are fille with either blueberry-cranberry marmelade or orange-ingwer jam. I have not taken a bit from those yet but they look great too so they cannot be too bad ;).
Finally – from the same book – I picked chocolate crinkle cookies in two variations: one patch is with Espresso and one without. I never did those before and was a little scared that they might not work out but they came out nice and crinkled.
Who else is baking and enjoying the smell of freshly baked goodness?
Last week I still did not have much time for crocheting as there was another cake waiting for me to be made. This time it was for the mother of my best friend. This woman is a really great person and kind of “adopted” my husband and me. So there was no way I would say no when I was asked to create a cake for her 80th birthday. Sadly she has diabetes so I had to ensure that the cake did not contain too much sugar. I picked yellow sponge cake with blueberry filling and a whipped cream-mascarpone cream. Her favourite color is yellow so I added some yellow roses and blue hydrangea made of Cake Dutchess modelling paste. I love how thin this paste can be rolled out and still be workable for some time.
I love how easy the petals could be dusted with petal dust and how well it holds the color after steaming. I have used this cake as an excuse to buy the cake steamer I had an eye on for quite some time. It was on sale at that moment so my restrain to buy it was easily resolved 🙂 It’s so much easier to work with a professional steamer rather than the water boiler I had used before (and almost burned my fingers with). Now I have all my equipment ready to practice more flowers as roses are fairly easy as soon as you have figured them out. The hydrangea don’t look that right though – maybe it would have been better to make them in white and dust them later just as I did with the roses.
Now that the cake season is over again for some time, I will again have time for some CAL work. I will give you an short update on my Stardust Melodies CAL. Here you see the next six squares ready to be joined to the rest. I am still behind six squares but I am sure that I am able to catch up. I am not sure yet if I am going to add more squares or if I just use it as a lap blanket. I think it will become pretty heavy the more squares are added as it is made of cotton yarn. I am not sure if I want to give it away every time for washing as I don’t know if washing saloons have enough knowledge still so that they don’t mess it up. I would be devastated if it got ruined after having invested so much time…
In the mean time I have a sneak peak for you until next week. Something I have been working on in between flower making for my upcoming vacation…..
I know, I know – I am supposed to work on my Stardust Melodies CAL or my Ross Poldark CAL. But I got side-tracked a little bit – not only because I am currently sick of working on long time projects. Those who read my blog regularly have seen the sneak peak already – so …. *dramatic drumroll*
Since the first time I have seen pictures of the In Bloom pillow by Johanna Lindal from Mijo Crochet, I knew that I had to make one for myself. And of course for someone who knows what my living room looks like, it should be really easy to find out which color scheme I was aiming for: Winter Rose. I did change it a little as I went for cream rather than using the harsher contrast of real white but I love the more subtle look. This pillow took much longer than expected – it’s actually a really big square that’s folded over and crocheted together in the back. It took me quite some time to figure out how this is done correctly – while trying to ignore the probably well-ment comments of my hubby such as “Are you sure that is right? It looks funny that way… “.
The second half of the week was dedicated to something totally different – a late-birthday cake for a good friend and dedicated running partner. She requested a Death by Chocolate so a Death by Chocolate she got. Rich chocolate cake with dark chocolate buttercream frosting and dark chocolate ganache topped with – of course – chocolate! It was 37 degrees outside and I was messing around with buttercream – not an easy feat for sure. But what really got me enoyed was, when my first patch of ganache desided to split. What a mess! No quick safe measure worked and I really got frustrated. It was already late on Saturday and I had to rush to the supermarket to grab some more chocolate before the market closed. The second patch worked fine though and I am happy with the result. The dripping could have been finer (will use a squeeze bottle next time) but overall it worked out as planned. And it was so moist and deliciously rich – I still try not to think of the amount of calories though …. But the party guest seemed to have loved it, so that I was able to redistribute those tiny little buggers to someone else’s hips :P. And if you want to have a good laugh, check the funny results produced in our session of “Stille Post Extreme” at my friend’s blog – my belly still hurts from laughing so much yesterday!
Every year in March it happens again and again – just like the famous Groundhog day and dreaded similarly: my birthday. So in order to fight the depressing feeling that another year has passed and still so much time is needed to finish all my projects, I usually throw a party for my closest friends.
One constant is me creating my own birthday cake. I really LOVE decorating cakes and it is so much fun to come up with an idea and follow it through till the end. It will not come as a big surprise that this years theme was yarn addiction related. And as I am a huge fan of Cake Duchess Modelling Paste, I also needed to incorporate some modelling using it. The design I had worked out all in my head pretty fast. I am terrible in getting ideas on paper, so it just stayed there. Okay, to be honest it was a little bit of a blurry design – a cup, some yarn, some mice, some fabric – mix and arrange. But that’s just my chaotic way of designing.
I have some firsts in this cake: first time working with a core of Styrofoam for the yarn balls and first time of using modelling chocolate to cover the cake. We are all not really fond of fondant, so I decided that it would be best to use chocolate instead. As I wanted to go for a basket weave in the beginning, modelling chocolate was best anyway as it does not dry out that fast giving me more time to work with. But as a first is was so much more difficult to work with than with fondant – I adapted the design as I went along. I made all the decorating elements in advance – as they will not be eaten anyway they can dry properly until added to the cake. As a full time worker it’s just better to split a huge projects into smaller sub-projects and not to finish all in one day.
Every time I use CD Modelling Paste I fall in love with it again. It’s so easy to work with and even paste I had colored and wrapped in cling film a month ago was still pliable. I never was able to secure gum paste or fondant so that it did not dry out – no matter how tight I wrapped and packed it.
The initial design only had mice in it – tiny little mice helpers for my crafty stuff. But then I stumbled over a design in the book The Art of Modelling Chocolate by Nadia Flecha Guazo and I just had to add it. So the figure I now love most is my own little wool provider which I really enjoyed making.
And you know what? Mice have a tendency to rise in population size quickly. Well those two are actually not mice but rats but we don’t want to be picky. When I invited a friend of mine to the party, she commissioned those two for her kids. I actually had given her one as a Christmas present last year but her two boys kept fighting over it. They even did a reading battle as the one reading would get to use it. How funny is that! I strongly believe in the power of books – I have a huge library at home myself – and therefore really enjoy it when youngsters learn to love them. So as those two rascals have birthday in March too, I set out to get them some more books and provided them each with a rat of their own. Maybe next time I’ll add some more of Supergurumis cool bookmark designs – and this time I will make two right from the start 😉