Not Knitted, but Braided Scarf

Hello there!

As you may have noticed I’ve been into a bit more than knitting and cooking lately – I’m still definitely being crafty though!  I made a dress, and now I’ve made a *gasp* not knitted scarf!

I found the idea (and tutorial) right here, at a lovely sewing blog called Nette.  It’s super simple – it won’t take you weeks and months like a knitted scarf!

How’s that dappled light?  The fabric I used was some leftovers from another project.  It was originally white, but I dyed it purple (along with a second hand cardi, which I subsequently shrunk in the wash – darn!).

It’s basically just two plaits, and a plain strip, all joined together to make one big loop.  I think anyone could make it – even my dad knows how to plait, he used to be a baker and plait the bread.  I remember when I was a kid he would complain that he couldn’t plait my hair because he only knew how to plait bread…

The place where you join the ends to themselves and to each other is pretty rough looking, so you do need to do a bit of sewing to cover it up with something pretty.  You could just use a strip of your fabric, but I used a bit of old doily which I found at the second-hand shop.

It’s been so lovely and sunny here the last week.   On Saturday, my mum and me went beach-glass hunting and found two pieces which looked like Mount Maunganui.  The week before had been really stormy, so there was so much washed up on the beach – sadly quite a bit of plastic, but also heaps of interesting shells, and of course some beach glass too!

A Summery Dress

I have been “sew” busy the past few days, making myself a lovely summery dress.  Yes, I know that it is the middle of winter, but I found this fabric at the Sallies, and it needed, NEEDED to be made into a floaty summery dress.

 

I love the unusual combination of colours – pinky-purple and rusty orange flowers, with blue and white and green leaves!   I took a pattern from another dress I have, that is my absolute favourite.  It has a button up bodice, with some darts for shaping, and slightly gathered sleeveless-style sleeves.  Here I am modeling it in the wintry sunshine.  It’s been a freeeezing day, but parts of it have been beautiful and sunny.

I had soooooo much fabric – about 4 metres, so I thought what better to do with it than make a swinging circular skirt for my summery dress!  In the end, the skirt ended up being a 3/4 of a circle, which is still PLENTY, as you can see:

At the back, if you can see in the picture, it has a wide ribbon for tying a big bow.  Waist ties are just about the best way to cheat on sizing…

The buttons are from my Mum’s extensive button collection (which has now been overtaken by an even more extensive beach glass collection).  They are little pink shell buttons, which glow green and blue and orange when they hit the colours of the flowers.

It’s going to a while until I get to wear it properly as a summer dress, as I’m moving to Germany/Finland in August, and will have two winters in a row!  But I am a non-believer in seasonal clothing – with a merino and some boots this will go perfectly for autumn or winter.  Though perhaps not winter in Finland…

Thanks to my mum for measuring the hem up from the ground for me, what a perfectly straight hemline it is!  Also thanks to my mum for taking time out from her assignment to take photos of me and my summery dress in the wintry sunshine.

Fig and Sesame Bars

A while ago I made some Apricot and Date Bars, which were a huge hit with the Pilot.  They are super convenient (I wrap them in tin foil or wax paper), delicious and full of energy.  I made them several more times – they probably take less than 10 minutes to mix up, then it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on them in the oven.

 

I decided this time to make something a little more exotic, and found these dried figs in the bulk section of the supermarket – don’t they look yummy?  They have such a strange texture, chewy on the outside with popping seeds on the inside.

 

I thought that these would go well with sesame seeds – they both have the same “popping” texture.  So without further ado, here is the recipe for these delicious and nutritious Fig and Sesame Bars.  Actually, some further ado:  I pretty much make up the recipe as I go along – you can add and subtract whatever you want and it’s not going to make a huge difference to the final product.  I’ll try to give accurate quantities, but just do whatever you want to get the textures and combinations that you like.

  • 150 g butter
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of honey

Combine the above ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for a while with some thoughts about the sugar reaching the soft ball stage and not burning in your head.  It doesn’t really matter, because there is enough butter in there to hold the bars together, but I think that the longer you simmer the sugar mixture for, the harder the bars will be.  Take off the heat and add:

  • 2-3 handfuls of chopped dried figs (make sure you remove the hard stem part that seems to stay on some of them)
  • about 1/3 of a cup of sesame seeds (whatever you have!)
  • 2 handfuls of desiccated coconut
  • 2 – 3 cups of whole oats

Add the oats in batches and mix until it looks about like this texture (add more if it doesn’t look like this yet…)

See how it’s not too sloppy, but also not so dry that it won’t stick together?

Now line a baking pan measuring about 20 cm x 30 cm with baking paper (best invention ever!) and press the mixture into it.  As a guide, the mixture should be about 2 cm thick in the tin.  Be careful because it’ll still be hot!  It helps to wet your hands a little, because that seems to discourage it from sticking to your palms (because I insist on using my bare hands in baking).

Make sure you press it into all the corners, or you’ll have some thin bars and some fat ones.

Pop into a 160 c oven and bake until the edges are darkish brown, the middle is light brown and nothing is crisp and golden black yet.  I loooooove the super caramelised edge pieces – yum!  Cool, turn out, and slice into bars.  I find that putting the whole tray in the freezer cools it down quickly and makes it much easier to chop it up.

These last for ages – probably up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, though I haven’t had a lot that has gone bad before they all disappeared in completely unmysterious circumstances…

Updates on the Spoons

As well as knitting a little, and not updating my blog, I have been cooking bits and pieces.  It’s difficult to blog them though, because 9 times out of 10 I finish dinners and deserts when it’s already dark, and the photos don’t turn out very well!

 

But, I have been baking…

 

Sweet things – these are Lemon Bars from A Second Helping (more from Ladies, a Plate).  The recipes is actually online, as a preview for the book, available here!  I hiiiiiiighly recommend these – they have just the right amount of sweet to sour, and crunchy to gooey, and the chocolate on top is lovely.  I actually used a little less icing sugar than the recipe suggested, mainly because I didn’t have enough…

 

I love lemons, and have also made one successful batch of Macaroons/Macarons – my first ever!   These are flavoured with a little lemon rind, and are stuffed with lemon curd and mascarpone cream laced with lemon juice.  As you can see, this photo was taken in the dark!  They didn’t last until the morning light… Even my dad, who doesn’t usually eat sweet things, had one.

Look how perfect they are!  Now, I have one confession… Though my first batch turned out perfectly, the second batch that I attempted were a complete flop.  As in, they flopped and spread out and cracked and just didn’t look very nice at all.  But, they still taste OK (although a bit chewy), and I am eating one right this moment with my tea.  I have a friend coming for dinner on Friday night who does not eat gluten, so will attempt another round of Macaroons/Macarons.  They don’t have any flour at all in them, the texture comes from ground almonds (and I have found some quite cheap almond meal at Countdown – only $4 for 150 g, which would make about 3 batches of Macaroons/Macarons).  Oh, and the recipe I used is from the book entitled, unsurprisingly, Macaroons.  It’s a bit of a confusing book actually, it looks gorgeous but includes instructions for making certain stages of the Macaroon the same consistency of shaving cream, or ribbons…  I think the ribboning texture is standard, but I would venture that the target market for this book doesn’t use much shaving cream…

Well, that’s my update on my lemony baking!  Hopefully I’ll get back into regular updating, and I’ll let you know how my next lot of Macaroons/Macarons go…

Updates in Wool

Hello!  I’m so sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately – I’ve just looked at the date on my last post and it’s almost a month ago!

 

I have fallen into the trap again of forgetting/procrastinating putting my photos onto my computer!  It somehow seems like a huge task, even though it takes hardly any time at all really

 

However, I have been cooking, and doing a bit of knitting too, though not as much as I feel I would like to.  I’ve been having a few troubles with my toe-up socks, and have frogged the heels again and again, I just can’t seem to get them right!  Hopefully this time…  Though not a skill I really wanted to learn, this tutorial on Knitty has some excellent tips for frogging!  I was always slipping the stitch off the needle, hoping and hoping that it wouldn’t unravel before undoing it and slipping the lower stitch onto the other needle – the tips in the tutorial make it sooooooo much easier!

 

On Friday I went to the beach with my mum – she went kayaking out into the sea to go fishing.  My mum is a mad beach glass collector, but there isn’t a lot of beach glass on this beach…  She makes her own jewelry from the beach glass, and recently made her first sale from her online Felt Shop – how exciting!

 

So, because there were no beach glass hunting opportunities to be had, I sat in the blazing sun (which was sooooo warm for the middle of winter!), read my book, and did some knitting on my Stockholm Scarf, it’s a big project!  I ended up buying two (three?) more balls of wool, because the first one only made about 10 cm of scarf.  I want mine to be big and snuggly… I am really glad that I decided to go with the 4mm needles, it makes a nice tight rib-like pattern, but is anything but boring with the lacy detail, just what I was imagining when I was looking for a scarf to knit.  I really can’t wait until it’s done so it can hug my neck, but it may be a while yet!

 

Stay around, and I’ll update you on what’s been happening on the Spoons…