Week 7 – Crochet moses basket blanket and converse style baby booties :)

As ever, another one of my friends is expecting. This time though we don’t know what the sex of the baby so I am doing something a little more neutral. The friend has already decorated the nursery in shades of white and grey so I have taken that as inspiration. Not my usual colour palette but very soothing.

A different yarn choice too for me. This time I have bought grey and white style craft bambino supersoft DK yarn. It s a little more expensive than special DK but you can really feel the difference. Lovely to work with.

As the little one is due in June I decided to do something a little more lightweight and in a size that would work with a moses basket or car seat.

The pattern I chose was inspired by this fabulous modern heirloom crochet blanket by Mama In a Stitch. Check out her blog, its glorious. Full of free patterns and inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

I tweaked it slightly as I was making a smaller version but the pattern really lends itself to a bit of personalisation. The basic pattern is simple moss stitch with colour changes as you like. Depending on how big you wish to go and how fast you crochet, this could be worked up over a weekend really easily. In a chunky variegated yarn, I should think you could have the first of many Christmas presents ready to go!!!

Anyway, as I had a small amount of yarn left, I decided that a pair of booties were in order. Made a pair of my reliable crochet converse booties. Love it in the soft grey. Will suit a boy or a girl, lets face it, the baby doesn’t mind what colour it is as long as its squishy soft ๐Ÿ™‚ The pattern for these was a paid for pattern found on Etsy by Choosy Stuff. The pattern is really well written, great value and includes a box you can print out for the shoes if you desire. For ยฃ4.20, this is really good value. For this baby, I haven’t added the black detailing as I thought it would be a little harsh with the soft grey yarn.

I love how the pictures turned out. The grey and white gives it a really vintage feel ๐Ÿ™‚

The granny square that I have done this week was inspired by my scrap basket because I have a lovely shade of teal in it!!

Enjoy,

Lx

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Week 6 – Damp Lemon and Almond cake, sounds delicious!!

Ok, so should anyone be paying attention. Last week should have been week 6, but it was sunny and a bank holiday weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ So I did other stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you all took advantage of the weather. If I’m honest it was a teensy bit warm for me but no worries it has already cooled down.

Today I have decided to bake a cake. Oh what a surprise she says!!! I really should broaden my cooking and baking, but I do love a cake ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe is from Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess. As ever I have tweaked the recipe a bit to suit me. The main issue with this recipe (to be fair Nigella does mention this too) is that it can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hr 10 to cook this cake. It means that you will be oven hovering for a while armed with a skewer!! My oven took 45 minutes to cook this today. You know your oven best, whatever happens, ย you should start checking from 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 21-23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined on the bottom

Now this is where I tweak things slightly. Ground almonds tend to come in 200g bags. This is technically not enough for this recipe if you follow Nigella’s list above. The last thing I want to do when I bake a cake is to buy more stuff than I need, and have it sitting around until I need whats left. So I use my 200g bag of ground almonds and top up with plain flour. I have made it as per Nigella’s recipe and with my alteration. I cannot spot any difference. My other addition is 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate and if you have it a large spoonful of buttermilk or yoghurt. You can leave these additions out but I find they lighten things a bit so the cake is less dollopy !!

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
  • Cream together your butter and sugar till light, fluffy and pale.
  • Beat in your eggs one at a time with a 1/4 of the flour after each egg.
  • Gently stir in your ground almonds or ground almond/flour combo/bicarb/baking powder and buttermilk.
  • Then add almond essence and zest and juice.
  • The mixture will look very close to splitting. First time I made this cake I added more flour because I thought, yikes it is far too wet. Resist, I promise it will be fine. The whole point of this cake is a damp (hence the title) texture. Sounds yuck but tasted scrum.
  • Pop your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around an hour. As I mentioned before, start checking after 30 minutes, popping a skewer in. You want the skewer to come out cleanish. Think damp!! If it looks like it needs longer but is browning too much, give it a tinfoil hat and pop it back in the oven. I would suggest checking every 10/15 minutes or so.
  • Once cooked, leave it in its tin for 5 minutes to cool before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling properly.
  • Nigella then tells us to wrap it in foil and leave it for a couple of days before serving. This does of course improve the flavour and texture of this cake but I have never left a cake hanging around for days. It tastes yummy eaten straight away with icing sugar sieved on and served with fresh raspberries and a cup of tea.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S As part of this year long project, I decided to make a granny square every week. Colour generally inspired by that weeks make (or what is in my scrap basket!!) This week I have made a lovely raspberry coloured square inspired of course by the raspberries. Really quite liking how the colours are starting to go together.

Week 5 – super speedy and easy, crocheted bag for a child

Week 5.

I can’t quite believe how quickly the time is flying by. My grown up children are too fond of mocking me when I say “where has the time gone?” But seriously, where has the time gone?

My youngest and I planned this year long blog challenge 5 weeks ago, which means that it is 5 weeks since I have seen her ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily she will be home soon for Eurovision weekend. So excited, we do love a bit of Eurovision. Will have to think of something to bake or make that will suit the Eurovision theme for that week (ideas on a postcard please…..!)

Anyway, I digress. This week I made a little bag for a child. Very, very simple pattern. Two crocheted granny squares and a dc (uk) sc (usa) handle.

I was on the hunt for a pattern for a granny square bag suitable for a child. There are loads online. In the end the one I made was very similar to this one by Wooly wonders Crochet. The difference being that I chose to crochet my pieces together and I created a handle by doing a row of 4 dc/sc on one edge (two stitches each side of where the pieces were stitched together) and the crocheted up until it was the desired length. Then simply crochet this to the other side. All in all, I spent around an hour on this in front of ย an episode of Jane the Virgin. Oh what a perfect evening that was ๐Ÿ™‚

I think I may well be adding a lining to this little bag as the granny square does have holes in it. If you made it with a denser stitch though, you may be able to avoid this. I love how this little bag turned out and will be posting it off to my niece as soon as I have lined it.

Finally I have also crocheted two more granny squares for the granny square a week project. I am not really getting to grips with this doing a thing every week. I really am not the most organised, although I got there in the end, so good enough I say. Colours inspired by the little bag and a bigger bag I also made this week.

The bigger bag doesn’t really fit the brief for this project as it took me a couple of weeks to get it done!! The tutorial for this mermaid tears purse can be found on youtube. It’s by The Crochet Crowd and is really straightforward to follow. Do go to their website for loads of brill ideas.

Enjoy,

Lx

Week 4 – The lemon drizzle cake

Week 4, time to bake.

I have posted a recipe for a lemon drizzle cake before but I believe that this may be the “one”.

Every time I bake a lemon drizzle I have a problem with it. Under baked is my usual issue but struggle to avoid this without burning the edges and top to a cinder. Anyway my previous post for a Nigella lemon drizzle can be found here, you can see from the pictures that it was definitely on the scorched side. It did taste ok but it wasn’t great.

This recipe can be found in the first Bake off book. This is the book that also gave me the best chewy ginger cookie recipe, click here for that one.

This lemon drizzle recipe calls for the all in one method. It’s not a method I have used really but it truly is about as easy a cake to mix as you can get. As long as you have some sort of electric mixer device ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:

  • For the cake mixture
  • 200g unsalted butter, very very soft
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten at room temp
  • finely grated zest of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml room temp milk ( I substituted butter milk as my preference for cakes)
  • for the topping
  • 100g caster sugar (I substituted icing sugar, works fine)
  • juice of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

A 20cm Springform deep round cake tin, greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Method:

  • Love, love, love this method. Do make sure your butter is super soft and your flour is sifted.
  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c
  • Simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and using either a food mixer or hand electric mixer. Blitz till it resembles cake mix.
  • Dollop your batter into the tin, lightly smooth into the edges, and bake till golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Recipe calls for 50-60 mins.
  • Your oven may mean you need slightly more or slightly less ๐Ÿ™‚ start checking after 35 mins ๐Ÿ™‚ My oven is definitely on the feisty side and so I probably could have taken my cake out 5 minutes before I did. She’s a little darker than I would have liked but no matter. This cake is all about flavour not looks ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Meanwhile take your lemon syrup ingredients, pop them into a small saucepan and then heat together to create syrup.
  • Once you have your cake out of the oven. Leaving it in the tin. Poke holes all over it using a skewer/cocktail stick or whatever you have to hand. I did this once with a cork screw with some (not total) success.
  • Drizzle your syrup over the cake and encourage it to go into the holes. I tend to spoon it on so that I can do this.
  • Resist the temptation to take the cake out of the tin. You need to let it cool in the tin, while it soaks up the syrup.
  • Make a cup of tea. Take your cake out of it’s tin, place on a plate, cut a large slice.
  • Patience rewarded. Om nom nom

It’s really not a very pretty cake, but it is super yummy ๐Ÿ™‚ as you can tell from the crumb covered plate at the back there!!!

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Week 3 – Weekend Project – Duckie Lovey

Oh my, imagine my delight when I found this pattern online. The sort of springlike weather inspired me to look for a duck to make for a teeny project. Stumbled across this fab website called The Little Yellow Duck Project. Utterly delightful and charming projects all created to inspire people from around the world to make little ducks to leave for others to find. All to raise awareness for blood, bone marrow and organ donation.

The Just Duckie Lovey is adorable. I had to tweak the ripple slightly as I couldn’t get my lovey to lay flat. I went to Attic24 for her ripple stitch and used that to make the base for my lovey.

The duck pattern was a treat to follow though. Really straightforward to use. I used Style Craft Special DK in duck egg and petrol for the lovey and lemon and sunshine for the duck ๐Ÿ™‚

This little guy makes my heart smile every time I look at him.

In other crochet related news! I have made two more squares for the square a week project. Those eagle eyed amongst you will note that I neglected to post this last week (I had made it though, so it counts)

We now have a lemon square, inspired by the arrival of April and more hopeful weather and a sunshine yellow square inspired by my ducks beak!!!

 

 

Really happy with how this project is shaping up.

Looking forward to next week. A cake addition to the project I think. Inspired by the lemonyness of this weeks yarn!!

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Week Two – weekend project. The Penguin

I had a request from a dear friend who wanted a penguin to gift to her brother for his 40th birthday!!. After looking around online (there are loads of penguin amigurumi)

We decided that this was the one for us. It is from a fab website called The Ageing Young Rebel. It is really well written with great pictures to work from. Click here for the link to the penguin page. Do have a look at her other patterns, really nicely done ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, firstly, this is a weekend project for those of you who are determined, and able to crochet in daylight hours. Black yarn is a real challenge in all but the best light. I was able to indulge myself over a few days to make this little guy in the daytime. I am so pleased at how he turned out. Truly one of the cutest amigurumi I have made ๐Ÿ™‚

I would suggest this is an intermediate level. This is my personal opinion and purely based on my experience of crocheting amigurumi so far. The black yarn and the unusual way of putting the body together made it quite challenging for me. I am super pleased with the result though and he is already winging his way to his new home.

The hat pattern included was for a knitted hat. I cannot knit well and instead crocheted a hat. No pattern as such. What I did was:-

  1. 6sc into magic ring (6)
  2. increase in each stitch (12)
  3. sc,inc rpt all the way around (18)
  4. 2sc,inc rpt ย all the way around (24)
  5. 3sc, inc rpt all the way around (30)
  6. sc all the way around (30)
  7. 4sc, inc, rpt all the way around (36)
  8. at this point I started trying hat on the penguin to see if this would go on his head ย you can either increase again or simply start adding rows until it is the desired length. So much of this will depend on your tension and the type of hat you are after.
  9. Once it was the length I wanted I then made a row of half double crochet (hdc) in the front loops only (this creates an edge you can fold) to create the rim. Happy days.
  10. Finally make a tiny pompom and attach.

The scarf is my own design (if you can call it that!!) as the original penguin didn’t have one. I simply started with a chain of 8, then hdc into the third chain from the hook, hdc in each chain across. chain 2, turn your work and then hdc in all stitches across. Repeat till scarf is desired length. Attach tassels if you like.

Then smile at the cuteness that is your penguin ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Enjoy,

Lx

 

 

Crochet / baking project April 2018 – March 2019 – oh my!

Not entirely sure that I have thought this through. Whilst having a leisurely weekend with my youngest offspring (I think we relaxed too much) , we have decided that a blog challenge would be “good for me” and her!!! All the lols ๐Ÿ™‚

The plan in a nutshell is – once a week, blog about a thing that I have made that week.

The criteria for the things are as follows:

  1. It must be either a baked thing or a crocheted thing.
  2. It must be achievable in a short period of time – either an evening, an afternoon or a weekend. So for arguments sake we have decided on 2-4 hour projects or one, up to 8 hour project. That way I can have time to do stuff I have to do and still feel like I am enjoying my hobbies.
  3. My youngest can set some of the challenges! (yikes)
  4. Blog about the recipe or pattern. Post pictures, how to’s etc every week on a Sunday.
  5. The last was a clever (not really) addition of doing a granny square as well every week, that will over the year form a lap blanket. The colours each week will be inspired by the weather, season or what we feel like! This cunningly should work through my collection of tiny balls of yarn. All about the right size to maybe make one small granny square. At the end of 49 weeks (a number that makes a square) I will choose a colour and a border to put it all together.

As this is the first week, and we have only just planned this plan. I have only one thing to post. It is (drum roll please) the first granny square!! Inspired by the Spring feel of this weekend, I chose to do this in a lovely shade of meadow green. The yarn is Style craft Special DK. This is my go to yarn for pretty much every project. The yarn is consistently reliable and affordable. You can pick this up online really easily from WoolWarehouse or try your local garden centres. A few near me stock it, happy days.


So here she is. Number one of 49, simple Granny squares. DK yarn, 4mm hook, 4 rows. Here is a really simple, clear tutorial for the type I have made. Do have a google though. There are loads of these on YouTube.

Looking forward to seeing how this develops over the next few weeks.

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Mandala Madness 2018 edition

Love the saffron yellow

Well after giving away my original mandala to a very dear friend, I decided that I had to make myself one in all my favourite colours. The pattern is a wonderful free pattern by Helen Shrimpton. It was a crochet along that ran in 2016. Please see my previous mandala for all links to written pattern and video tutorials.

I have loved making these blankets, so imagine my delight when I discover that Helen has designed a new blanket that will be available as a crochet along starting on the 17th April 2018 ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy, happy days. Her website Crystals and Crochet has all the details and available yarn packs and links.

I am already intending to use my existing stash to make this but there are some cool colour suggestions on her site for those who like a well laid out plan.

 

Do have a go at making one of these yourself, I learned so much and the videos and photo tutorials make this very achievable for the adventurous beginner ๐Ÿ™‚ As long as you can yarn over and jam your hook in somewhere, have a go ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy,

Lx

 

2018, new year new me. January is so tedious with it’s demands to self improve :(

I have pretty much lost my life mojo over the last year or so. I feel like I have been coasting through the last few months, doing what needs doing but not really doing what I want to be doing.

I have come to the conclusion that this is due to the children getting their adult lives up and running and so not needing me as much. I also feel that my career is a tad off track (not sure what track it needs to be on though!) I have always taken jobs that have suited my family’s needs and now find myself in the terrific position of being able to choose a job that I want to do…………trouble is, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (I do appreciate that time may not be on my side here!)

Anyway, with a view to doing something that gives me joy but not too demandingย I set myself the challenge of using up the last half balls of yarn before I was “allowed” to buy more. I did make some very cute amigurumi items for my sister (see below for links to amigurumi patterns) as well as a collection of baby converse booties. Loads of patterns out there but after some trial and error I chose to buy a great pattern from Etsy for these. Good value, clear straightforward instructions and cute box to make for the shoes too ๐Ÿ™‚

Then, ย whoopee, ย shopping at wool warehouse for all the style craft special DK colours that I can justify ๐Ÿ™‚ I amย now happily and busily working my way through another mandala madness. I am really enjoying this pattern. Usually I don’t like to make a thing again but this pattern is so varied, ย it keeps me interested. I love the way this pattern lends itself to my use (overuse) of colour ๐Ÿ™‚

The next task (thanks January for making me look at my life) is to really look at what I want to be doing Monday to Friday (hopefully to Thursday!)

February update – well for goodness sake, how are we half way through February. The only thing I have really achieved so far this year has been my mandala madness, currently just completed up to part 14. Love, love, love making this. It has proved to be useful avoidance tool when it comes to, well pretty much anything I’m wanting to avoid!! Ha ha.

Anyway, I have been productive with the crochet club too which now has added new members. I am enjoying the challenge of trying to teach people something that I have learned through the magic of youtube.

Note to self – I must print out UK and US crochet terms for everyone. I tend to use US terms but a lot of the patterns that we have been working from are UK. This is adding a level of difficulty we could do without!!

Enjoy,

Lx

The first two patterns are paid for patterns. The unicorn is a free pattern. Both of the paid for patterns had really clear instructions with helpful pictures. Highly recommended ๐Ÿ™‚

Dendennis donkey patternย 

Lalylala kangaroo pattern

Unicorn pattern

Sticky ginger flapjacks – such an easy recipe, not so easy on the waistline!

Well, it turns out that 2017 was not my year to blog. I started out with good intentions and many many plans and then it was Christmas! Anyway, January 2018 is here and I found this recipe that I clearly intended on posting last Autumn. No pictures of the finished product but a fabulous picture of my cats, just because!

Enjoy, Lx

What a gorgeous Autumn day it is today. Sun is shining, leaves are crisp underfoot and I have been oh so virtuous today. Yoga class first thing and then a smidgen of housework. Socks are paired and the sofa cushions are plumped ๐Ÿ™‚

Having had lunch I still feel a tad hungry and yearn for something yummy and homey. Decided to hunt down a decent flapjack recipe.

These days flapjack recipes all seem to be trying to reduce the butter and sugar content in order to make them healthy. Sadly this makes for dry and disappointing flapjacks. If you are after a healthy, low calorie snack that is low in sugar please search elsewhere. This is not the recipe for you! This recipe was found in my old faithful Good Housekeeping Step by Step cookbook. You can always pick up a copy of this somewhere relatively cheaply. I still have my Mums copy from 1957 as well as my shinier version bought more recently with, joy of joys metric measurements.

Ingredients

  • 350g unsalted butter
  • 275g golden syrup
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 450g rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

I never seem to be able to completely adhere to a recipe and this one is no exception. I had some stem ginger in syrup in my fridge that looked lonely so I chopped that up and popped it in too. Entirely optional yummy extra. I thing sultanas would work too in this.

Method.

  • Grease and line a tin approx 18 x 28cm (your traybake type)
  • Heat oven to 180 degrees c
  • In a large saucepan, melt together your butter, golden syrup and sugar. I added my stem ginger pieces to this too as it will help them combine later.
  • In a bowl, mix your oats with your ground ginger and then add your syrupy liquid. Stir to combine.
  • Pop this mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on it. After 32 minutes mine was going just a little to0 dark (rescued in the nick of time, still yum). You want it golden and still squidgy in the middle. Overcooked flapjacks are not yummy and are not worth the calories.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a while before lifting out onto a cooling tray. Cut when cold in to 12 squares or 24 triangles depending on how you feel.
  • For those who really want to know (I didn’t want to know but the book very (un)helpfully gives the calorie count) 517 calories per large square!!! Yikes.

Enjoy,

 

Lx