Thursday, 30 November 2017

Getting Ready for the last Month of the Year

Being the 30th of the month, this is my last chance to write a blog entry for November. I've been busy trying to get organised for Christmas in the last few weeks, shopping for presents, knitting, crocheting and sewing as well. And baking. The only thing I haven't done yet is decorating the house which I will start this evening. This is probably the first year that I have all the Christmas shopping done before the start of December but as I'm going to have a baby just before Christmas I have no other choice. It feels good to have everything done early. There are still a few things that I need to finish off but even if don't get time to do them, I will be alright with what I have.

My sewing machine finally gave up just after finishing Aidan's Advent calendar. I'm glad that I got that done as hand sewing would have slowed me down a lot and tomorrow is the first of December.

I got the inspiration for the calendar here. It's pretty straight-forward to make: just a piece of cloth with 24 pockets stitched on (German calendars only have 24 days as we get our presents on Christmas Eve). I used paper templates before I cut out the pockets as I didn't want to end up with too little space.

I'm still planning to do some Christmas ornaments that I need to hand sew now that my machine is broken.

But I'm actually happy with how they turned out, especially the birds. Hand sewing gives you a bit more control and you achieve a softer look with stuffed ornaments. It's slower of course, but at least it's easier to undo when you make a mistake.

Aidan and I already started baking. We did some ginger bread and some traditional German "Plaetzchen". We're going to do more today.

Regarding baking: I'm happy to say that my sourdough bread has improved a lot over the last weeks. It's probably one of those things that need some time and practice to get right. After my first two loaves rose really high with proving but totally deflated in the oven I did some internet research and guessed that I might have let the loaves rise too long and in too warm conditions. I let them rise eight to twelve hours. The next time I reduced it to four hours and just room temperature (with radiators on). The outcome was perfect: the loaves didn't rise that high when proofing, but rose again in the oven.

I also discovered this recipe which makes a lovely mild tasting bread. The dough hardly rises at all when proofing but all the more during baking. I've made it at least four times and it always turned out really well.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Tutorial: Last-Minute Halloween Decoration

Last year when I decorated the house for Halloween I decided that I needed a few diy decorations to compliment the two garlands and lantern that I had bought a year before. I just don't have a hand for decorating and while some people can make a few shop-bought things look really amazing, I'm not one of them. After a pinterest search I got the idea to get a few bare branches and hang some small decorations from them. So I came up with these little felt bats:

They're really easy to make and look pretty good hanging from a branch. Last year it was too late to make a tutorial so I'm doing it now.

Here's what you need:
paper pattern (Make your own by drawing a similar shape about 15cm across and 5cm high. That size they hang the nicest, the wings are just light enough to not droop.)
Black felt
Bits of toy stuffing (or some bits of cut-off felt)
Black thread
Sewing needle

Cut out two felt bats by placing your paper pattern on a double layer of felt, pinning it into place and cutting around it.

Pin the two felt shapes wrong sides together and sew them together with a simple running stitch around the body first, kind of cutting off the wings:

Leave a little gap in the seam and push some toy stuffing into the body before stitching it closed.

Then stitch a line of running stitch around the edges of each wing. And that's it! Attach a long piece of thread from the back of the head and hang on some branches or the ceiling.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Two Bags

It's a year since I've started this blog! I'm glad that I got this far and nearly managed to post at least two entries each months. The words still don't come easily but my writing ability has improved at least a little. It doesn't take me that long any more to write an entry.
For the next year I just hope that I will be able to keep this up. With a new baby coming along, the chances that my posts will be more frequent are not high. But I'll try my best. There will surely be more posts about babies and less about craft projects.

So here is another crafty post:

Apart from knitting about four things at the same time, I've also been sewing a little:

This bag is made completely of left-over fabric from other projects. I had meant to make a bag with the flowery fabric for a while but it just wouldn't come together until I got the jeans fabric. And suddenly my head was overbrimming with ideas. The three flowers are made with Suffolk Puffs (little fabric wheels, great for using up scraps) and buttons, the stalks and leaves are embroidered. I should have taken a better photo... I just took one quickly before sending the bag on it's way to Germany for my mum's birthday.

I made this bag, excluding the strap, quite a few years ago before I moved to Ireland.

For some reason I considered it finished without a strap, though it was uncomfortable to hold like a clutch. It was lying around on my sewing table recently while I was sifting through some ribbons that my aunt had given me. And this beautifully woven band just fitted it perfectly. I love when this is happening!

There isn't much sewing going on at the moment. Aidan doesn't nap anymore during the day and in the evening I prefer to knit. It seems to take less effort when I'm tired. But I do have a few ideas in my head and hope to be able to sew more before the baby comes.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Knitting Season

It's autumn again! We didn't have much of a summer here in the west of Ireland but I didn't miss it too much. We had two holidays in Germany and I got all the sun and heat that I needed there. And I prefer autumn over summer anyway, at least when there is some sunny weather, though a rainy day spent inside in front of a fire has its merits too. Still, I hope we'll have some more of those days:

This photo was taken last Sunday which had a wet start but turned into a lovely sunny day. We drove out to the seaside for a walk along the coast. It's much more pleasant to walk in autumn time than it is in summer, I find. The air is so pure and fresh and there's no sweating and baking in the sun even after a long walk.

And more reasons to love autumn: colorful leaves, foggy mornings, the food (apples, plums, berries...) and of course knitting! Though I'm knitting all year round since I moved to Ireland (the cooler weather allowing it), my peak time is still the official knitting season. Obviously. It doesn't feel right to knit a wooly jumper in July, even when your fingers don't get sweaty handling the wool.

My knitting baskets are already full of multiple projects I started. Some of them from last year like my husband's fair isle vest... But I've already finished something:

The pattern is from this book (my latest Charlie Byrne's bookshop find):

It's a baby cardigan for a cherished little someone who is currently still cosy and warm in my tummy but by the time of his or her birth it will be midwinter so I intend to knit lots of wooly warm vests and cardigans.  This one was supposed to have long sleeves and I wish it had. What happened was this: I got the book and decided to start straight away with knitting using up some lovely yarn that I had used for a jumper I knitted for Aidan last year. I had slightly less than the two balls that the instructions said but I chanced it. Big mistake! Never never do this! I figured I could still buy more of this yarn if I ran out. But it turned out that this particular color was discontinued and none of the shops had any left. By this time I had set my heart on knitting a yellow cardigan and did't want any other colors mixed in. My aunt has given me a bag full of sewing supplies among them the lovely heart shaped blue buttons and I really thought that was a sign that I should try and make this cardigan as the blue and yellow go so well together. I ended up knitting several versions of short sleeves until I got the right length that gave me just enough yarn to finish it. In the end I'm happy enough with it but I have my lesson learned!

Apart from knitting for my own baby I have projects planned for friends' babies (quite a lot women of our acquaintance are pregnant as well) and for family members. In fact I will probably not be able to do everything I have planned. I'm due in the middle of December so there won't be much knitting after that. At the moment I'm trying to do as much as I can, fitting in a few stitches here and there. I'll see how far I will get.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Scraps and a new Bread Recipe

When you first start out sewing, you might find it hard to come by materials without spending a lot of money. Yet after a few years most crafters find themselves with an ever growing stash of fabrics, some still sizable enough to be used for future projects, but the bigger mountain is always made up of those scraps of fabrics, too big to throw out but to small and cut-into for most projects. Yet if you throw them out you can be sure that you will need tiny amounts of exactly the scraps you've just thrown away in the near future. I'm always hovering between my tidy minimalistic side that wants to get rid of all those tiny unmanageable bits and my thrifty crafty side that shies away from throwing out anything the might come in useful. So I ended up storing my fabric scraps in various boxes, out of sight and out of mind, which meant that I never really used them at all. After doing some internet research for storing ideas I found this metal basket in a local shop.

It doesn't look the tidiest, but I can just throw the scraps in and they are stowed away but still in sight. And the basket at least is pretty. It would help if I got another one as it's always overflowing. But having the basket in full sight means that I occasionally do feel the urge to sew something with some of those beautiful scraps. Again the internet is great for getting ideas, but my latest idea came from something I've seen in a shop in a town while looking for some birthday presents. They were tiny fabric dogs with a chain and key ring. It's not easy to sew something that small, not for me with my basic sewing machine skills anyway, but I tried some heart shapes, not too small, that came out decent enough. So I did a few different shapes. They're far from perfectly sewn but look alright from if you don't look too closely. 

I used a different kind of scraps (paper) to decorate a folder for my recipes. It was good to cut up some old magazines that could throw out afterwards. While making lots of recipes from the internet I don't like having to use my phone or the computer while cooking. So I usually copy the recipes in handwriting (we don't have a printer), which gives me the possibility to note down all the changes that I might make. My newest addition is a porridge bread recipe that a friend has mentioned when I told her of my decision to make our bread myself. Her mother is making it all the time and after trying it out yesterday I think I will too. The recipe can be found here.


The whole home-baking business is going surprisingly well. I expected to cave in after a week and just buy bread in the supermarket but so far I haven't. It's getting addictive and I find myself looking forward to baking the next bread. Though I have to say that this wouldn't be the case if I had a job. It's easier when you're home the whole day even with a toddler to mind. In fact, baking bread is a way to keep Aidan busy. He loves kneading the dough and always manages to sneak some into his mouth.

The sourdough starter worked out as well after a few difficulties at the beginning. I hated the idea of having to throw out half of the dough at every feeding, so I only fed it a little flour and water every day, but that was wrong. Eventually I followed the instructions here and it worked wonders. Well, that is to say my starter dough was certainly ready for baking.

And when I made the bread dough it rose beautifully... only to turn into a brick in the oven.

It wasn't as bad as it looks though. When I cut the loaf, it looked spongey like it should on the inside and it tasted ok. Adrian, who loves sourdough bread, gave it the thumbs up. So I won't regard it as a failure. I haven't baked since and store the starter dough in the fridge. Hopefully my next attempt will make a fluffier looking loaf!


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Home Baking

Lately I've been very conscious about unnecessary additives you find in commercially sold bread. The obvious answer to this problem is of course to bake your own bread. The only problem I had with this is the fact that all my loaves turn out to be quite dense and even when they tasted good spread with butter or as a side to soup they just wouldn't make proper sandwiches. So I started browsing the internet to find a recipe that would make a fluffier bread. I found this site and thought I might give the recipe a try. And I'm glad I did: Usually recipes I make don't turn out like the should even when tasting fine but this bread actually looked like in the picture shown on the site. Even though I substituted kefir for the milk (I do this whenever I can to use up the huge amounts of kefir that my grains yield) and used a cup of wholemeal wheat flour.

As for the taste, I will have to play around with seasonings a bit the next time, but I was very happy with the texture. Adrian and Aidan were too, so there wasn't much left by the time I remembered to take the picture. It did make lovely toast like it said on the website but it also worked as sandwich. So I expect we'll have more of this bread in the future. 

The other recipe I tried out is this one . Not only did it look beautiful but the quick-no-knead-heading appealed to me as well. I had never heard of a Dutch oven but I figured it must be close to a cast-iron casserole dish which it said you can use instead. I was a bit nervous because of the high temperatures and handling the hot casserole but everything turned out fine. The bread rose beautifully even without kneading and it tasted very good. It's not a sandwich-style bread but I did't expect it to be. I will certainly do it again. It does say to let it rise for 12 to 18 hours or 6 hours in an oven with only the light turned on but mine had risen well after two hours in an oven with set to about 30 degrees celsius.

There's another recipe I'd like to try but I have to be a bit patient for that as I need to make the sourdough starter first which will take a few days. I've made sourdough bread before but wasn't very happy with it. It came out very dense and quite hard. After reading up on this useful website  I figured that I probably didn't knead it enough and didn't let it rise enough. I am ready to give it another try now. I've started making the starter dough two days ago with just flour and water and I'm very curious how it will turn out and if I will be lucky enough to "catch some wild yeasts". It's a bit like trying to trap wild birds I think, you just lay the trap and hope some of them will be lured into it. The first day nothing seemed to have happened but this morning there were a few bubbles in the dough and a vinegary smell so I might be lucky.

My kitchen is getting pretty crowded with all the cultures feeding away: kefir, yeast and sourdough. A few years ago this really would have bothered me, but now I think doesn't look messy, just lived-in and cosy.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Rory's Baby Quilt

Yesterday afternoon I finished the quilt.

I have to say I am pretty happy with how it turned out in the end. There was a time during the sewing precess when I was worried that it might look horribly distorted.

This is only the second time I properly quilted after my first experience dampened down my enthusiasm: It was my very first patchwork quilt that I was making for Adrian's first nephew Dara. While I should have picked something simple, being me, I designed something with hearts and circles that I wanted to outline with quilting stitches. I've always enjoyed embroidering and I thought quilting would be very much like it. But far from it! The wadding was very thick and my embroidery hoop kept sliding off, but even when I managed to keep it on, the reverse side looked completely crooked: a circle on the front got distorted into some wonky egg. In the end I managed to make it look kind of right but it took a lot of time and tears (and swearing).

After this I opted for crochet blankets for the next babies and when I ventured another quilt for my nephew Emil I just knotted the layers together. But after five years I decided to give it another try. Again I used the same thick wadding as I still had plenty of it.

Yet I went for an easy design and decided to just quilt along the seams avoiding any curved lines. I also ditched the embroidery hoop which worked out great for me. The quilting didn't go smoothly and there were a lot of wonky lines on the back that I had to undo and redo. But I found that it was easier when I got into a flow of stitching and didn't worry too much about how it looked on the back. 

Not perfect but not terrible either! And Aidan liked the soft wadding.

While the fabric did pucker up a lot, or was stretched too tight in places while I was quilting, it didn't matter in the end. I actually like the three-dimensional look.

As for the edging I meant to do a bias binding but had trouble choosing the fabric. Luckily I visited my aunt in Germany who had just finished an amazing huge quilt. I noticed that for the edging she had just turned over the backing fabric and stitched it to front. She argued that this version is time- as well as fabric-saving - perfect for me! And I like that you can see the backing fabric on the front now as well.

I am itching to do another quilt now!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


As an admirer of fashions in the past I'm always looking at ways to incorporate details from bygone eras into my everyday wear without looking dressed up. A great way to do this is to use accessories and if you ever had a look at one of my online shops you might have noticed that I have a mild obsession with gloves.

In the last few years I've crocheted several pairs, usually fingerless. When I'm happy with how they look they end up in my shop. There are still a few decent ones that I could wear myself, but I rarely do. Up to the middle of the 20th century no lady would have ventured out without hat and gloves and while I love the idea of being pernickety with your clothes I can't be bothered too much about them these days. After all it's no use donning gloves when you're wearing old jeans and a t-shirt, you want just a little bit of coordination.

There is something to be said for the casualness of modern clothing and I am glad that I can go out of the house without spending hours getting dressed. But at the same time I do deplore the absence of elegance in most of our clothes. Now and then I enjoy being fussy about what I wear. 

Recently I had an opportunity to wear gloves at my cousin's wedding. I wore a fifties' style dress with the little white crochet gloves in the first picture. Of course I don't have a photo...

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A baby quilt for Rory

The last week has been very family orientated for me. My sister Bille stayed with her husband and toddler son first at our house and then at my sister Marina's. We spend a lot of time together, chatting away while the boys ran around and did screeching competitions...

... and went to feed carrots to the donkeys. We are so lucky that we all get along so well: we three sisters, the three husbands and now Aidan and Emil, too.
Then on Friday my husbands littlest nephew arrived into the world. Aidan's third male cousin (only one girl so far). We haven't met the newest addition to the family yet as my sister in law lives in England but we hope to visit some time this year. As I seem to have made it a tradition to make a baby blanket for all the babies in our family, I seized the first chance and disappeared into my sewing room to plan a quilt. This is what I have come up with so far:

This is a good few hours work, little as it seems. It sounds fun to pick out the colours and arrange the fabric (and it is), but it's also quite hard to make it look nice. This is not at all what I had in mind at first. I wanted to go for a crazy quilt with lots of patches and ribbons but after playing around with patterns and colors for a while I decided to go for a more traditional look. After all I want this quilt to be finished while Rory is still a baby.
My aunt who is very good at quilting would probably not be happy with this, but as it is only my third quilt I prefer to keep it simple. The next step will be sewing together the squares which shouldn't be too hard. Hopefully more about this in the next post!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Recipe: Kefir Lemon Poppy Scones

A few days ago I had a "day off", meaning Aidan spent the day at his grandparents. When I dropped him there my mother in law was just making scones so I felt a craving for them all the time during my dentist's visit and on the way home. Then my sister Marina texted to ask if she could call in giving me the perfect excuse to start baking. I had a lot of kefir to use up so it had to be kefir scones. But I wanted to add a bit more flavour. After some browsing on the internet I came up with these poppy seed scones that turned out surprisingly well. Luckily I wrote down all the ingredients and quantities.

So here is the recipe:

300g self-raising flour (or plain flour with 3 tsp of baking powder mixed through)
150g wholemeal flour
70g poppy seeds
100g butter cut into cubes
285ml kefir (or buttermilk) plus a little bit more for glazing
1 lemon
85g sugar
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.
Mix the flour with the baking soda and cut in the butter then use your hands to bring it all together.
Grate the lemon zest and mix with the sugar, then squeeze the juice out of the lemon and mix about half of it with the kefir.
Add kefir, sugar and poppy seeds into the flour and butter mix and stir with a wooden spoon to mix it all together. Then knead with your hands to make a dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out thickly (no rolling pin required). Cut out circular shapes using a cup or glass and transfer them onto a baking sheet. Use the other half of the lemon juice and mix with a little bit of kefir and glaze the scones using a brush.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the scones. They should be ready when they turn golden brown.
Enjoy with butter and orange marmalade!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Happy Easter!

It seems that I'm getting more and more nostalgic about Germany, the longer I live abroad. This is the first Easter I actually decorated eggs and made some traditional German yeast buns. Easter in Germany - at least in my home - means egg hunts in the morning (preferably outside in the garden), bright spring colour decoration, long mass with choir and orchestra and of course food: lots of boiled colourful eggs, chocolate bunnies, yeast buns, cakes in the shape of lambs...  It's such a beautiful joyful spring holiday!

If I were a properly organised person I would have planned what to make for Easter in advance and I could have blogged about my projects. As it is, I just write this quick post to show some of the things I made yesterday and today. The eggs in the picture above are boiled and then decorated with
self-adhesive fabric that a friend of mine gave me for my birthday. It's perfect for sticking on eggs. Very unmessy as no glue was needed. For my husband's niece and nephew I made those incredibly quick and easy paper baskets:

I found the idea and photo instructions here.

Today I did all the baking. I made a huge amount of yeast cardamom dough (German recipe here) and tried to do the bunny shapes from the recipe. You need a lot of imagination and good will to see that they're supposed to be bunnies...

I need a bit more practice! After making about fifteen bunnies I used the rest of the dough to make some Easter nests, that turned out a bit better:

There was no trip to the shop involved in making those things as I happened to have everything at home. Perfect last minute projects. Next year I'd like to plan a little in advance and make some decoration to put up. I'm always saying that and never do it...
Anyways, happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Fairy Tales

It's time for some book reviews. I don't get to read as much as I used to, but I couldn't imagine a day without reading a few lines. Mostly during mealtimes which is a really bad habit but I love it. The perfect breakfast always includes a book next to my plate. 

And this is the book that's on my breakfast table at the moment:

I picked it up while browsing in my favourite bookshop, Charlie Byrne's, in Galway. Fairy tales have always delighted me since I was a very young child and I want my son to get as much pleasure out of them as I did myself. While I was always convinced that it is wrong to deny your children the pleasure of fairy tales because they can be cruel or sad, I do feel a bit worried about this now that I am a parent myself. Of course no parent wants to scare their child and it is normal to feel worried that those gruesome details might do some damage to your child's psyche. According to Bruno Bettelheim though, the opposite is true: Pretending that life is always sunny and denying that evil and death is part of it as well, can do much more damage. Fairy tales teach children about the darker sides to life in a safe way, they show evilness and death but in the end everything comes right, evilness is punished, good deeds rewarded. If I think back to my childhood I don't remember ever feeling scared or threatened by a fairy tale, but I do remember feeling happy and consoled hearing the last line: and they lived happily ever after. 

Aidan is still a bit young with his two years but when he saw the picture of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf on the cover he was intrigued so I got out my old Fairy Tale Book and read him the story. He loves the picture of the wolf and doesn't seem to be upset by him swallowing the grandmother and Red Riding Hood.

Another book that I just finished is this one:

This is one of my most favourite books. I've reread it countless times since I first read it when I was about sixteen. Though this is my first time to read it in English (The German translation was published under the nondescript title "Sommerglanz"). What makes it so enjoyable? From a literary point of view there is probably not that much to it. The story is simple, the characters a touch stereotyped. The newer editions are actually published as young adult fiction as you can guess from the cover, even though Eva Ibbotson regarded it as a book for adults. It is such a pleasure to read. It has everything you secretly want from a book, but might be too scared to utter aloud for fear of being ridiculed. I do enjoy reading "high" literature (though probably not for the right reasons), yet sometimes I just want something light, something stereotyped and predictable. There is nothing wrong with predictable: The heroine is Anna, a young Russian countess who has lost everything in the Russian revolution and comes to England to work as a housemaid in a grand manor house. Rupert, it's young owner, just back from being wounded in the war, is exceptionally liberal minded - as are all his family and neighbors. They take active interests in their servants' lives and they welcome a Jewish family into their neighborhood - not very likely for the English gentry at that time, I believe. You can guess from the first pages that Anna and Rupert will fall in love and end up together. And it would be very disappointing if this wouldn't happen. Like in a fairy tale: you know the heroine will win and get the prince in the end but that doesn't make it less enjoyable to read. It doesn't matter how old you are: We all need fairy tales sometimes!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Knit Knit Knit

Most birthdays in our family are clustered around the Spring months and I'm nearly as busy knitting and sewing presents as I was in November and December. I'm mostly knitting at the moment: Adrian's fair isle vest that I meant as a Christmas present is not even half finished and I got it into my head that I need to knit a lace camisole for my mother in law. Both birthdays are at the end of March so I really need to get on with them. Though I do realize that the vest for Adrian won't be finished by his birthday...
I usually knit in the evening after Aidan has gone to bed and more often than not I am joined by our cat Branwell. There is something nice about having a purring cat next to you when you're knitting. 

Wool, cat and a cup of tea: the perfect ingredients for a relaxing evening!

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Food 1: Sugar

A week ago my baby turned two years of age. It's hard to believe that it's two years since he was born. It feels like yesterday. On the other hand, life before him seems so far away. Anyway, I made a birthday cake, or rather my mum and me made several cakes, as quite a number of people were expected to call.

I couldn't shake this guilty feeling though: last year I had made a sugar free cake for Aidan's first birthday, it was sweetened with bananas and blueberries, but this year white sugar played  a big role. (I made this chocolate cake, which is fairly healthy, though the buttercream I used for the frosting is full of sugar, and mum made her famous version of a Milka Torte) Of course it's not the first time that Aidan had sugar. I don't want to be too strict and I don't want to deny him the pleasure of eating sweet things. And it undeniably is a pleasure! But I also want him to be healthy and I certainly don't want him to become a sugar addict. Awareness of how bad sugar is for your health is constantly rising and I've been trying for a while now to reduce the amount of sugar that my family and me are eating. When you have a baby all the nurses and all the books and leaflets tell you not to give your child sugar in the first two years. I do love cake and biscuits myself and so does my husband and of course Aidan got to nibble some biscuits even before he turned one. I don't think this is so bad when it doesn't happen every day. Still I will try to keep sugar at a low level though we could never succeed to eliminate it completely in this house. But since I started to reduce sugar in my home baking I have found a lot of sweets that I used to love nearly unbearably sweet. I think I can regard this as a success!

Food 2: Kefir

A few months ago my husband's colleague gave me some kefir grains so I could start making my own kefir. My mum used to make yoghurt at home but I had never heard of home made kefir. I'm not even sure if I ever had kefir before. I did get hooked very soon! Even when I had to drink all the kefir myself as Adrian absolutely refused it after taking his first sip. And you do get a lot of kefir as it takes only a day for a glass of milk to turn into kefir.

And recently I don't have to drink it all myself: Aidan discovered that he loves it, especially with a bit of orange juice through it. Maybe he likes it because I let him help me to sieve the kefir and then lick the bowl? Whenever he sees the sieve or the bowl or the glass with the kefir grains he demands to sieve the kefir and drink a good bit of it. It's supposed to be very good for you so I don't mind to let him have some of it daily. Apart from drinking it you can use it in loads of recipes. I like using it instead of buttermilk in soda bread and scones. Apart from having lots of kefir you also end up having lots of kefir grains as they keep growing as you make the kefir. I hate throwing them out so  I hope I will find someone I can give them to. I think my mum might take some home. My sister Marina already did and has been making her own for a while.

Food 3: Recipe

This is a recipe that I meant to share for a while now: it's a pasta dish I make for Aidan when I need a quick dinner. I've been making it since he was about a year old.

Tbsp butter
1 green onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
Tbsp flour
about 200 ml milk
handfull frozen peas
20g baby pasta
grated cheese

Cook the baby pasta according to the instructions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a pan and add onion and carrot. Fry a little over medium heat then dust with flour and add milk, stirring constantly. You might want to add more milk for a runnier sauce. Cook for a few minutes then add the the peas and cook for another few minutes until peas are soft. Pour sauce over pasta and serve with a bit of grated cheese.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Family matters

Last week the postman rang to deliver an unexpected parcel. It was from my sister Bille who had given me an umbrella for Christmas and had offered to post it as it was quite complicated to bring on the plane. She hadn't told me that she had sent it so it was a real surprise.

And she had included an issue of my favorite magazine and wrapped around the umbrella (!) a beautiful jumper that she knitted a while ago and never wore.

As much as I like the umbrella, it's the jumper that I cherish most as a gift. A lot of work has gone into it - the Norwegian star pattern is not easy - and I remember how disappointed she was when she didn't like it on herself. I always thought it looked great on her but I know too well how it is when you put a lot of work into something and it doesn't turn out the way you imagined it. No matter how much praise you get you're just not happy with it. I wish it had turned out better for her but I am really delighted to have a new warm jumper now.
I have already mentioned my sister Marina's blog where she frequently publishes her amazing paintings and drawings. My sister Bille has a blog as well that she seems to have revived after a several months of silence. I hope she will blog regularly now.
I am very lucky to have two creative sisters who share my love for making things. And it's obvious where we got it from: our mum used to always sew and knit for us and our dad and these days her knitting needles are always out to knit jumpers for her grandsons. And her mother, our Oma, was the same. At a time when you could still save money by sewing your own clothes she made most of my mum's and her siblings' clothes herself. Nowadays you don't do needlework out of necessity but for enjoyment and all my aunts and cousin like to knit, sew or crochet. I am very thankful that I grew up in a family where it was a matter of fact that you learnt to do needlework at a very young age.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Spring Is On Its Way

February, which is still deep winter in Germany, is considered a spring month in Ireland. Saying this, it certainly doesn't mean that the weather is any nicer than in January. They say you can have four seasons in a day any time of the year in Ireland, so there is no point arguing if February is winter or spring. I went for a walk yesterday and it really did feel like a lovely spring day. And that was the last day of January! The sun was shining, the air was mild and we saw the first lambs in the field. Or at least I did, Aidan was fast asleep by that time. I decided to take the longer route which I don't do that often these days. And I'm glad I did. I passed one of my favourite ruined houses on the way. Ireland is a good place if you're into old houses and castles.

There is something sad and beautiful about ruins and they never fail to fascinate me. I always wonder what happened to the people who lived there. Did they leave or die? Why did nobody else move in? I got the impression that most people in Ireland don't share my enthusiasm about old stone walls but then I discovered The Irish Aesthete. It's an interesting blog and I've learned a few things about nearby ruins. Yet my poor old house is just one of many, too common to be of historical interest. Maybe it is better not to know its story, it would probably be disappointing. I'd like to leave it as it is: an old farmhouse covered in ivy, with broken window panes and trees growing inside. ( I snooped around with a friend once). Very soon the birds will be nesting in the attic, so it's not as deserted as it seems.

It's hard to believe that it's already February. I haven't posted as regularly as I would have liked but I had good excuses as I had to finish a customer request:

And the present for my cousin's baby:

Both are on their way to Germany now, so I have time for other projects that have been lying around for a while.