Thursday, April 29, 2010

my creative space

Pants, pants, pants, pants....

That's the plan, anyway. I suspect that if I manage to trace the pattern today, I'll be doing well! But there will be some little pants sewing coming up very soon...especially if the little one's winter wardrobe is going to have enough pants in it!

To check out some lovely creative spaces, visit Kirsty.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preserved Lemons

Yesterday our household took another step toward normality when I (finally) got around to making some preserved lemons. Preserved lemons have been a nearly permanent fixture here since I first discovered them about 10 years ago. Frustratingly, they need to sit for a month to do their thing, so it's another lesson in patience. But it's definitely worth it!

My method is based on Stephanie's from The Cook's Companion, but I tend to opt for the lemon and salt only, mainly because I'm lazy. Stephanie adds bits of bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves to hers which are delicious, but these are pretty good, too!

Preserved Lemons

1kg lemons, scrubbed and quartered longways
250g salt

Add 1 tbsp salt to the bottom of a sterilised 1L jar (or 2 smaller ones). Place the lemons and the rest of the salt in a large bowl. Massage the salt into the fleshy part of the lemons, extracting most of the juice. Pack the lemon quarters into the jar with the skin side out, as tightly as you can. Cover with as much of the remaining juice and salt as possible then put the lid on. Wipe any salty juice off the outside of the jar and leave in a cool spot (not the fridge) for at least one month before using.

And on an unrelated note, apparently green crayons taste delicious....?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A pin cushion and other goodies

We returned home from holidays recently to find a rather large pile of mail waiting for us, a significant part of which was a very interesting envelope about the right size for a pin cushion! I was rather delighted to discover a lovely specimen inside, handstitched very impressively by Michelle. Thank you, Michelle, and thank you Kate for organising a great swap!

This very cool pattern by Jodie of Ric-Rac also appeared in my letterbox recently, from Justine of MixTape. I won it simply because I read this great crafty zine! How lucky am I!? It really is a very good magazine, you should read it, too!

And last but not least, this lovely necklace was a gift from my husband for our wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago. It was made by Olivia of un jardin de hilo, who does some really amazing crochet, and makes some lovely jewelry, too! I possibly dropped a very big hint by emailing him the link to the item in her Etsy shop, but I'm very, very chuffed with it!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

my creative space

Now that I've stopped feeling seedy all the time and started feeling normal again, I've picked up a few projects that were started at the beginning of the year. One of them is this send-you-blind embroidery (kind of like cross-stitch for crazy people) that I've discovered is perfect for keeping my hands busy during MasterChef!
To see (a whole lot) more creative spaces, visit Kirsty.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finally....a winner!

There were many things I intended to do before we headed off for a much needed family holiday to Phillip Island. Drawing my giveaway was one of them. Ahem. Now we're back, so I'm finally getting around to it! At least this way, I actually managed to finish the bag before finding out who the winner was. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway...
So, one chubby, very grubby hand picked out the winner...
Bells, I will be in touch shortly to get your address details. I promise it won't take as long to post it as it took to make it!

Thank you to everyone who entered! Clearly I need to decide either never to hold a giveaway again (given my tardiness), or I need to have lots so that I get more practice!?!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

my creative space

Experimenting again.
This time with a ridiculously long crochet hook and some yarn that came from Knitter Sue. I'm liking the yarn more and more as I play with it!
Learning a new technique, and then experimenting with the pattern while waiting for the yarn I want to use for the project I have in mind to come into the wool shop!
To visit more creative spaces, drop in on Kirsty.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spiced quinces

We spent the most joyful day on the Christian calendar celebrating at a packed church service in the morning, followed by a relaxed Easter Sunday lunch with family and friends. It seemed to me that this was the perfect opportunity to cook quince, one of my favourite autumn fruits. I love the way that after a few hours in the oven they go from being this odd looking, indigestible yellow fruit to a fantastically rusty red, delicious treat.

This recipe is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Autumnal Spiced Plums, which appeared in Delicious a few years ago. With a minor variation replacing maple syrup with strong black tea, the poaching liquid is perfect for quinces. And even though there was considerably more than needed for lunch, we've already finished them!
Spiced Quinces

3-4 quinces
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup strong black tea
1 cinnamon quill, broken in two
2 star anise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 160ÂșC.

Peel quinces, cut into sixths or eighths, and core the pieces.* Place the pieces in a single layer in a large baking dish.

Put all remaining ingredients in a saucepan with approx. 350ml water and bring to the boil. Pour syrup over quince and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake in the oven for 3-4 hours until quince is lovely and soft and tender.

Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature. I like to serve mine with a dollop of cinnamon and honey yoghurt.

*Be very careful here, as quinces are really hard when they're raw, especially around the core. They're also slippery before they're peeled because the skin is kind of greasy, so peeling before cutting can sometimes be a wise idea. It can also help to wash them before peeling and chopping.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A pincushion

Inspired by this one (and no, I don't speak Danish - if that's what it is!?!). I used Lucy's flat circle pattern to get the shape, omitting every 3rd row to stop the unwanted wavy feature that appeared, most likely due to a combination of using dc rather than htc, and the heavy weight of the yarn.

I used Noro Silk Garden in colourway 241 (discontinued - spewing). The colours are much deeper and more intense than they appear in the photos - a flaw in my photography skills or camera or both I suspect. The button is a lovely ruby red, if that's any indication!

Unfortunately I like the finished product so much that I'd like to keep it for myself, but if I did that my swaperama partner would probably never get anything!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My creative space

My creative space has been somewhat overrun by other priorities in recent times. Most of my available crafting time over the last few weeks has been taken up with sleeping or thinking about sleeping. So I’m very pleased that my energy levels have started moving in the right direction, just in time to fulfill my pincushion swap commitments! It’s the perfect project to help me get back on the bandwagon: not too big, I get to crochet (which is about the only crafting medium that I ever seem to finish in a timely fashion!), and I get to play with some extra special yarn.

I’m hoping my swap partner will like it - it’s full of subtle yet striking colour variation that will hopefully result in a rather special pincushion if I get what’s in my head out into reality!

Thanks Kirsty for hosting My Creative Space and getting bloggers like me back in the game...!

P.S. Giveaway update: my giveaway closed too long ago to remember exactly when, but it's yet to be drawn and the prize is yet to be finished (ahem). So, I'll officially reopen it for a week, and draw it NEXT Thursday. Apologies to anyone who's been hanging out waiting to see if they'd won a prize....