2018/19 The big project thing, Cats and crochet, Crochet

September already :)

September has arrived very swiftly it seems this year. Thankfully though it appears to be at it’s best so far with cooler nights for sleeping comfort and warm days with a fresh breeze. Its my husbands favourite month of the year and its easy to see why.

I am looking forward to making crochet blankets. They are not the thing to make in the summer especially one as hot as we have had this year. I started a little while back but am pleased to report that my Cosmic Cal 2018 is well on the way, with part 1 completed.

The pattern is wonderful and free from Helen Shrimpton at Crystals and Crochet. I have been following the videos but the written pattern is free to all and can be found on the website easily in UK and US terms.

As ever, I am using my go to yarn, Stylecraft Special DK. Cheap, reliable and many colours to choose from. You can’t go wrong with this yarn. Colours chosen from my yarn stash. I am trying to not go shopping at Woolwarehouse!!!

I have also been experimenting with Instagram. My daughter has been honing her drawing skills over the last year and it has been truly inspirational to see how she has progressed. She felt that I should be using Instagram so that I can get an instant “hit” of likes that should inspire me to create more. She was right, as with all things social media, it is very addictive! I have enjoyed being able to upload a speedy picture.

Enjoy,

Lx

 

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2018/19 The big project thing, Crochet, Family

Weeks 16,17,18,19 and 20. Oh dear!

Ok, so the best laid plans and all that jazz.

I had every intention of posting every week. This felt like a perfectly achievable plan and would inspire and motivate me in other areas of my life. The reality is, I have just eaten half a packet of malted milk biscuits and am trying to get motivated enough to decide what to cook for dinner, lol πŸ˜‰

So, in my defence, this summer has been very, very long and not exactly lending itself to making things out of yarn or hot ovens. In the last week, I have managed to pull a little crochet and cleaning mojo out of the bag.

Crochet books and magazines have all been neatly stacked, crochet hooks sorted and two projects started. The Cosmic Cal by Helen Shrimpton and a simple linen stitch baby blanket, aimed at using up my 3 balls of Stylecraft Special DK Mushroom. This yarn has sat in my stash for the best part of a year now. I keep picking it up starting something and then feeling that it’s not quite right. It is a lovely colour but can’t quite make up my mind if it goes well with anything other than itself. The Cosmic Cal is also being made in my leftover Stylecraft Special DK yarn. I am trying very very hard not to buy more yarn until this is well on the way to being gone.

Looking for pictures to post to go with this post as couldn’t find the energy to go downstairs and take pictures of my projects so far (so very lazy today!)

Found these and was reminded about how cute I once was and that I was a pretty good florist once upon a time (not done flowers in a very, very long time)

Looking forward to getting grip going forward!

Enjoy,

Lx

 

 

Uncategorized

Week 15 – Granny squares 1-15 and thinking about Christmas makes!! sorry ;)

Looking around for things that inspire me this week has been a challenge. The weather has been glorious here for a few weeks now, this has led to very little in the way of productiveness!! I’m sure I am not the only one.

What I have decided to do, Β is start thinking about Christmas makes. I know it’s July but I want to make at least one big blanket for a gift this year and they take me months to make. I also really want to make these adorable advent Christmas stockings. I saw them last year but it was already December, too late 😦

They are a teensy bit fiddly to make but so very worth it. Do have a look online, there are lots of different ones to make and plenty of helpful tutorials. The yarn I have used is as ever is my go to favourite of Stylecraft Special DK. This project is the perfect stash buster for those oddments of yarn that are too big to throw away but too small to make anything useful.

YAY – Found a great blog, jensalittleloopy.com that has a handy selection of crochet advent items to inspire you.

I have made 15 granny squares for the granny a week blanket, I have also put them somewhere safe while hubby and I have done a little furniture rearranging around the house. Funnily enough, I can’t find them to take a picture of them, let alone make anything from them!! You’ll have to trust me πŸ˜‰ Whilst looking for the squares I did find the chocolate peanuts I bought for the other half as well as three pieces of turkish delight πŸ™‚ all is not lost πŸ˜‰

On an absolutely not crochet related or baking related note, I saw these adorable cacti in Urban outfitters. Loooooooove them.

Finally, in anticipation of teaching a small class of new crocheters tomorrow, here is the first thing I ever made. Not quite as the pattern was written but I was delighted with him. He is still very much loved by my niece and is known as Javere Bear πŸ™‚

IMG_8949

 

So all in all, not quite the blog post I had intended πŸ™‚
Enjoy,

Lx

 

2018/19 The big project thing, Baby Crochet, Crochet, Family, Uncategorized

Week 14 – crochet cord tie

Well, I missed blogging last week due to our computer throwing a tantrum and refusing to do anything useful. Even shutting it down proved tricky.

Anyway, hubby spent some time putting it in recovery mode and hey presto, we are back in business.

This teeny tiny crochet project came about as a request from a friend who was expecting. “Please can you make me a crochet cord tie” , she said . Errrrrrrr, not sure, let me look into that!!!! Β On googling it appears that crochet cord ties are a thing for those who would like to tie babies cord with something other than a plastic clip. Looks much softer for little ones.

She sent me a picture of the sort of thing she would like. Looks straightforward enough to make but what should I use to make it and how can we make sure it is clean for baby. Β Decided cotton would work well and the Mummy to be took charge making sure it was washed and then popped in the freezer to keep it sterile till the big day.

Looking online for ideas on how to make these, the basic idea is two small crochet motifs, one on each end of a crochet cord that is around 30cm in length. I found a few articles online to help me make this item and gave the new Mum to be strict instructions on how to use it as well as the recommendation that they check with their midwife too.

Have look at this one on Simply Crochet.

Beautiful Tribe have an article on how they approached this.

Etsy have loads for sale but if you are even a beginner crocheter, this is really straightforward to make.

The motif we went for was a heart. Attic 24 have a lovely pattern for teeny tiny hearts that were the size for my cotton yarn and a 4mm hook. The hearts were about 4cm across and the tie measure in at 30cm.

It took me all of about 15 minutes to make this including the faffing about trying to find a tape measure!

Enjoy,

L πŸ™‚

 

2018/19 The big project thing, amigurumi, Crochet, Family

Week 13 – Amigurumi Sheep, a weekend project

This weeks project instalment is a very cute amigurumi sheep. On hunting for something to make using a couple of balls of Sirdar Snowflake that I had picked up in a sale. I found this glorious blog, The Friendly Red FoxΒ full of wonderful things to crochet. Kali, the blogger has filled her site with loads of free patterns as well as handy tips and tricks for the beginner as well as those of us who have been crocheting for a little while. She has a soft spot for all things amigurumi, I suspect I will be making a few more of her creations. Definitely be adding this blog to my useful resource page!!

Kali’s ami sheep is the cutest thing. My version hasn’t quite captured the cute lameness of Kali’s. In fact it looks a lot like a mouse in a sheep costume. However, for my purposes (gift for my neighbours 6 year old) it did the job. It is squishy and cute. What more do you need from a cuddly toy πŸ™‚

Overall this project took me around 8 hours to make. It most certainly is something that could be made over a weekend, although I enjoyed making bits of this over the course of a week.

Happy crocheting,

Enjoy,

Lx

Note re Sirdar Snowflake – this yarn is a little tricky to use at first. Trust your fingers, you can feel the loops more easily than you can see them. Plus it is so fluffy that if you miss the odd stitch or add the odd one, it won’t show up anyway πŸ™‚

2018/19 The big project thing

Week 12 – Aperol Spritz, The World Cup and parts of an Amigurumi Sheep :)

The challenge this week has really been to get motivated enough to actually make a thing or bake a thing. Β The weather has been lovely all week, and I cannot be bothered to do much more this evening than make myself a glass of Aperol Spritz πŸ™‚ Tis delicious πŸ™‚

For those of you who haven’t discovered Aperol. According to wikipedia Aperol is an Italian apΓ©ritif made of, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, among other ingredients. You mix this with Prosecco and soda for a delicious cocktail. It goes down beautifully with olives or salty nibbly things.

The recipe, such as it is, for an Aperol Cocktail is helpfully on the back of the label. Simply, 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water. Top off with a slice of orange or pink grapefruit, sit down in the early evening sun and enjoy.

 

If you like a gin and tonic, then I would think you will like this. The Aperol adds a slight bitterness to the sweetness of the Prosecco. Its a lovely summery drink that is the most amazing shade of orange πŸ™‚ Reminds me a bit of Irn Bru!!

 

I didn’t entirely fail at making a thing with crochet. I did do the squares for the square a week blanket and while England scored goal after goal this afternoon πŸ™‚ I also managed to crochet a head and a body for what I am sure will be a cute sheep πŸ™‚

Enjoy,

Lx

 

2018/19 The big project thing, Baking, Crochet, Family

Week 11 – this week has become a rather useful resource page!

Week 11 – a weekly challenge is proving to be more of a challenge than I can manage!!!

So here I am, 11 weeks into this challenge I set myself with no make or bake achieved this week. Not the plan for this blog.

However, as we all know life can get on the busy side. I have been busy spending time with my offspring. Mainly the youngest who popped home Wednesday evening for a long weekend home. We have tackled lots of very important issues over tea and pastries, including but not limited to – what colour sofa should we get next? whats for dinner? and is it ok to have a nap now? Really important stuff. We did also discuss this blog and things that we could incorporate into it and so it was decided that this week I could write about things I would like to make and do and take the opportunity to point you all at some of the wonderful blogs and websites out there that I use for inspiration.

Crochet

  • Moogly – this is pretty much my top go to blog for crochet inspiration. Tamara Kelly is the lady behind this work. Its a great site full of top 10 patterns for various things. Lots and lots of free patterns. It is an American site so generally using US terms for crochet patterns.
  • Attic 24 – love this site, particularly for colour inspiration and stitch choices. She has beautifully clear instructions. Her blankets are a thing of beauty and kits can be bought too.
  • Ravelry – this is a fabulous resource that I’m sure most of you have come across before. Lots of free patterns as well as paid for patterns.
  • Etsy – again another that most are familiar with. I have used this particularly to buy patterns for baby shoes as well as slippers. There are tons of free patterns out there but sometimes you need the security of a tried and tested pattern. With paying for a pattern you often get the support of the designer as well. Two girls patterns are a huge favourite and really great for responding to questions too.
  • Den Dennis – a designer from the Netherlands. The Amigurumi patterns on this site are a mixture of free and paid for and also a mixture of languages. Although a lot of the patterns are available in English. Do try some of the free patterns to get an idea of he puts his patterns together. You can buy patterns on Ravelry and Etsy too though. Great value patterns, easy to follow and consistently good results.
  • All about Ami – another great site for amigurumi, household items and clothes to make. Her site is a treat for the eyes too, I may have a go at making her gorgeous cardigan in the Autumn.
  • Its all in a nutshell – Esther runs this marvellously generous, fab site full of wonderful ideas and superb video tutorials. Lots of CALS (crochet alongs) to be inspired by.
  • Look what I made – another fabulous crochet site featuring most famously Sophies Universe. Dedri Uys is the designer of this blog. Featuring loads of free patterns that you will need to make πŸ™‚
  • Crystal and Crochet – this site, run by designer Helen Shrimpton features paid for and free patterns. The mandala madness is a must πŸ™‚
  • The Friendly Red Fox – my latest find and love, full of free patterns and super tutorials. A must if you love Amigurumi.

Food

  • BBC good food – this site is so easy to use. You can search by ingredient, recipe or keyword. Because it is such a reliable site and utilises so many chefs works, you can pretty much use just this site.
  • Madhur Jaffrey – Having not been a curry fan for many years, when I finally decided to start having a go at finding flavours that spoke to me, it made sense to look at Madhur Jaffreys books. She has been on the scene for many years, all the recipes that I use from mainly her book Curry Easy have been reliably easy to use and generally these days the ingredients have been easy to source. If you are not a fan of coriander like me then do try some of her recipes. Gorgeous flavours, varying levels of heat and lots that don’t use coriander πŸ™‚
  • Nigella – not a lot I can say here really is there. I do prefer her sweet recipes with the Christmas recipes being used year on year.
  • The Great British Bake Off – every year since this cooking programme started there has been a companion book. I have bought almost all of them. You can however get hold of many of the popular recipes on their site direct. My Stem Ginger cookie recipe came from the first Bake Off Book and is consistently my most viewed recipe.

There is so much online these days. It can get a little overwhelming when looking for inspiration. Think that is why my go to list is possibly on the small side. There are of course loads more sites, books, magazines that I use but sometimes it’s nice to have slightly fewer choices to make πŸ™‚

Keep it simple perhaps.

Enjoy,

L πŸ™‚

 

P.S Next week, I will have a few more granny squares made for the 49 week granny blanket as well as something made!! (or not, depends on what inspires me πŸ™‚ )

 

2018/19 The big project thing, Dinners, Uncategorized

Week 10 – curry time again. Palak Paneer and Spinach Curry without Paneer!!!

I wanted this weekly project initially to have the focus on a bake and/or a make. I have decided to broaden this a bit. The idea was originally to be inspired by something and Β so this week I was inspired by dinner!!

We have, like many others tried the recipe boxes that are everywhere all of a sudden. Gousto was the first one we tried and although we didn’t stick with them, I did adopt a few of their recipes into our regular menu.

The first time I made this, I of course followed the recipe to a T. Since then I have tweaked a bit (but only the tiniest bit, promise) Instead of paneer, I have started using halloumi. It’s just that bit nommier πŸ™‚

Ingredients: (serves 2 but you can bulk it out for 3 with maybe a bit more rice, side dishes, poppadoms and mango chutney or simply double for 4)

  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red chilli (I have substituted dried chilli here if you don’t have fresh to hand, use around 1/2 tsp or more depending on how hot you would like it)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 6 cardomom pods
  • 250g paneer cheese (as mentioned I substitute halloumi as I prefer it and have also reduced the amount by half before to reduce calories without impacting the flavour significantly, your call!)
  • 150g baby leaf spinach
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 20g fried onions
  • 130g basmati rice

Method;

  • Crush the cardamom pods with side of a knife or a spoon.
  • Place the basmati rice and the cardamom pods, a pinch of salt and 300 ml cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once boiling turn it down low, pop a lid on and gently cook for 10-15 minutes. Do keep an eye on this as you want to turn the heat off once it’s absorbed all the water and is cooked. Leave the lid on and leave your rice to one side in the hot pan until you are ready to serve. It stays piping hot for a good while (10 + minutes easily).
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice your onion, chop your chilli finely, chop up your tomato and pop a kettle on to boil.
  • Chop your paneer (or whatever cheese you desire, if you use a vegan cheese here, this dish is perfect for vegans and veggies alike. Violife have one, not tried it myself but worth a shot for this yummy curry) Heat a non stick frying pan and heat up a drizzle of veg oil. Once hot, add your cheese and fry on both sides till golden brown. Once browned , transfer it to a plate, season if desired and set aside for later.
  • Get your pan back on the heat, add a little more oil if you need and then fry your onions till soft. Then add your chopped tomato, garam masala and 3/4 of your chilli (you can tweak this to suit, the dish is really flavourful and can cope with being less heated πŸ™‚ ) Cook for around a minute to release the fragrant spices.
  • Meanwhile, pop your spinach in a colander, stick it in the sink and pour over your boiled water. It will wilt. Rinse with cold water till cool and then squeeze out the water. Grab your wet squished spinach, chop it up roughly.
  • Re boil a kettle
  • To your curry, now add the tomato paste and spinach and cook for a minute or so.
  • To 250ml of boiled water, dissolve your stock cube and then add this to your curry. Cook for around three minutes till it thickens up a bit.
  • Then add your cheese and just warm it through for another minute or so.
  • Serve with your rice and garnish with the fried onions. You can add more chillis too if you want to really spice things up.

I know this looks like a lot of steps. I must admit the first time I made this it felt like a bit of a faff but once I realised that the rice can be pretty much be left once it is cooked, I was then free to concentrate on the curry which in real time takes only about 10 minutes or so to cook, Β if you have everything chopped and ready to go. For someone who used to avoid curries because of the overuse of heat and coriander, this recipe has become a bit of a favourite.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S Its not a pretty curry but then which curries are!!

2018/19 The big project thing, breakfast, Healthy Living

Week 9 – My overnight oats, oooooh how exciting!!!

This blog started life as a way of recording family recipes that we enjoy. We didn’t want those recipes that we keep in our heads to disappear over time.

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound remotely exciting, and if I’m honest, how exciting do you really need breakfast to be? But, I think, it is just exciting enough (don’t judge me, breakfast sets you up for the day!)

This recipe is inspired by all of the many recipes you can find out there for overnight oats/Bircher Muesli. I had of course read about these and a few friends had waxed lyrical about them. Honestly though, the thought of soggy, cold porridge did not appeal. If you are having cereal, I have always tried to eat it as fast as possible to stop any sogginess happening. I even pondered the two bowl approach πŸ™‚

How wrong was I. Not entirely sure what prompted me to try these in the end but here we are.

I googled and found many recipes. You can probably find a recipe for every day of the week. There are so many options, although the oats certainly appear to be universal. The bigger the better. For the dairy components, you can add milk of course, but condensed milk was in one recipe, cream in another and yoghurt or combinations of.

The next ingredient that features in all seemed to be grated apple. Now I did try this but my grater turned most apples to mush, and I refuse to go out and buy a special grater just for this. It also seemed to be an awful lot of faff for not much in the way of flavour for me. Of course, try it. It is after all your breakfast, you might as well make it to suit you. I dabbled with pureed apple sauce, not bad but settled on apple juice. I pretty much always have it in the fridge as it is hubby’s choice generally, when it comes to juice πŸ™‚

Nuts, another seemingly universal ingredient. All types, it appears go into these recipes . All to add some crunch as well as protein. I do not like nuts, therefore, I did not include them!! If nuts are your thing, go wild.

Dried fruits – again, many recipes include different types depending on the author. Like most households I can usually find some sultanas or raisins in the cupboard but this recipe works beautifully with any kind that you like really. I am currently loving the tropical fruit mix which has mango and papaya in it. Yum. But I have some apricots ready for the next bowl.

That is pretty much that in terms of main ingredients but let your imagination (and what’s in your stores) decide. Add seeds, fresh fruit, spices, syrups, granola, plant based milks and yoghurts. This recipe can be entirely vegan should your heart desire it.

What I have been really pleased with is that I can have this without any added sugar. I have a wicked sweet tooth and generally find that I prefer life on the sweeter side. Adding cinnamon, for me, is the magic ingredient that ties it all together and gives it the sweetness I need. That and the fruits of course. I’m aware they have sugar in them, but for me this is pretty good to avoid adding syrup or something similar.

As the title suggests, these are generally made the night before. This does buy you some valuable morning time. However, if like me you are regularly not organised for life. When you get up, nip down, apple juice your oats, stick them back in the fridge while you get showered, dressed etc. They’ll have soaked enough by the time you get down again. The overnight soaking gives a much softer porridgy mix, but 10-15 minutes soaking is fine if that’s all the time you have.

Lorna’s Overnight (or first thing!) Oats

  • 40g large scottish rolled oats
  • Around 6tbsp apple juice
  • Dried fruit, to taste (I’ve never weighed these, just chuck on a few, about 40g)
  • Milk to loosen mixture, again, this is very much about personal preference.
  • Cinnamon
  • Yoghurt to top
  • Fresh Fruit – whatever is in season or you like. Pears are lovely with this as are strawberries.

Method

  • The night before, in your cereal bowl, place your oats and dried fruit. Add your apple juice to these. Stick it back in the fridge and go to bed πŸ™‚
  • In the morning, take them out and add enough milk to loosen the mixture. You may have to play around with this. It really must be how you like it. I usually add some, give it a mix, taste and then add more if needed πŸ™‚
  • Next sprinkle on your cinnamon, mix. Again this is to taste. Add a little and then more as you like it. Cinnamon is super good for you and apparently help regulate blood sugar. Happy days.
  • Then the toppings. Again this is all about you. I like to add some fresh fruit if I have it to hand. However tinned pears are particularly yummy with this. A dollop of yogurt works well too.

As ever, there is a granny square a week as well related to this project. This weeks square is a delicious peachy pink.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S I tried my best to take a good picture of this, not my best work. I am not a photographer and food pics are challenging when you are faced with a bowl of creamy brownish smoosh!!

2018/19 The big project thing, Christmas, Crochet, Uncategorized

Week 8 – Super speedy mobile phone crochet cover.

Week 8 already.

Looking around for simple and speedy patterns led me to a budget bookshop. The Works. This shop is very hit and miss but what they seem to do really well is art supplies and craft books. Super cheap too.

Always good to have a handy supply of books for my crochet group to peruse. You can of course go online for a myriad of free patterns, but there is something pleasing about thumbing your way through a book πŸ™‚

Anyway, the book I picked up for the grand sum of Β£4 is entitled 30 minute crochet. Guess what it contains!

Some of the patterns are definitely not my cup of tea. That said, this book is perfect for the beginner or someone who is perhaps looking for something speedy that they can whip up in no time.

I spotted the mobile phone cover, a really simple pattern that uses dc (UK)or sc (US) throughout. For obvious reasons I can’t simply give you the pattern here. Do buy the book or have a look online, there are loads to be inspired by. See below for a couple of links to other patterns.

Crochet Crowd mobile phone cover patterns

You Tube video tutorialΒ 

The only part of these mobile phone covers that I can claim as my own is the button, although I’m sure that it was a pattern from somewhere at some point!

I simply started with a magic ring and then crocheted 6sc into the ring. Join with a slip stitch, loosely pull your circle together (not too tight, you want to be able to work into the hole for a few more stitches) then chain up one and then working into your centre hole, sc for as many times as you like to get the desired effect, the more times you go round the bigger the button. Pull tight to close your hole and weave in your ends. Attach to your cover.

If you search for crochet button pattern, you will find loads. Sheru knitting, see link below has a really nice one that I think was the one that I was inspired by. Her site has fabulous things to make, I could spend hours looking at her tutorials. Beautiful.

Sheru Knitting

Hope you like these. All in all, I spent a couple of hours (not quite the promised 30 minutes, but close enough!) making both of these covers and the granny square was inspired by the orange one.

Enjoy,

Lx