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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter Holidays!

Wishing you joyful and peaceful Easter holidays with your loved ones!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Of birds and eggs

The last weekends I was busy crocheting some Easter decoration: some little birds and some eggs.
And interestingly they are almost the same size. The birds are filled half with filling material and half with rice to give it better stability. Instead of safety eyes I used the ones to glue on, but that's not safe for little kids or pets as the eyes tend to fall off when touching.
The pattern for the little birdies including a little story can be found here.
For the eggs I followed this pattern here.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Lunch box, Doshirak or Bento

What to eat for lunch? A question I often ask myself during the week. I usually bring some weekend leftovers for Mondays and Tuesdays to my office and go out eating lunch somewhere for the rest of the week. Usually I eat far too much and irregularly. And a lot of times lunch outside is neither delicious nor nutritious. So when I came across some food blogs I found a very clever way to prepare lunch boxes: So called bentos. Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine, and the equivalent in Korea is called doshirak. There are different styles of bento, food that looks like cute animals or like flower gardens, real food art and for sure very appealing for kids to eat. I was more looking for practical and easy to do lunch inspirations though. Something I can prepare over the weekend, store in the fridge or freezer and use all week long. So I started with something really simple, yet delicious.

First I cooked some white rice with soy beans, filled two halfes of two  containers and stored the rest in the freezer in little portions for later occasions. I fried some tofu, cut into bite size pieces and seasoned with soy sauce (very yummy recipe found here). I think the tofu, which is almost invisible in the picture below (unterneath the parsley), is best to eat when just fried. It got quite dry on the second day. I peeled and chopped some cucumber, carrots and radish, added a mini tomato and some flat-leaved parsley. I also prepared some soy sauce-sesame oil dip in a separate mini container for the veggies. VoilĂ , my first lunch box:
It was very delicious and to my surprise quite filling as I used a small plastic container with only 400 ml capacity. And it saved so much time. I really enjoyed my first bento/ doshirak experience and had almost the same combination for two more days. (I did a variation on the sauce)
From last weekend's leftovers I packed a smoked salmon lunch box with hash browns, tomatoes, olives, some corn salad. Yet another tasty lunch!
I think I will continue making those lunch boxes more often. Sooo many inspiring blogs out there, so much to try out! And so simple too. All you need is a food container with a lid for safe transport. Fill half or two-thirds of your lunch box with carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, noodles ect., and the remaining space half with vegetables and proteins like meat, fish, egg, tofu etc.. Close the lid only when the food has cooled down. Use separate containers for food you will heat up in the microwave or for dressings/ sauce/ dips. The lunch box content should be colourful, well balanced and attractive for  you to eat. Try it out!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Spring activities

Last weekend we went out flying. Yes, flying with a quadcopter, a model aircraft Peter bought for work. The quadcopter is equipped with a camera and is going to be employed to fly over fields to give an overview of crops. First we spent the morning at home searching the net for instructions, and thanks to Youtube we found really good videos how to get the software working and the aircraft started. Then we drove outside town to a field far away from buildings.
Our first flight was a bit of an adventure as you cannot see the little white quadcopter well against the bright sky when reaching 50 meters of hight. I'm also not used to estimate distances of flying objects, our little fellow always seemed to be too far away from us. The camera which is mounted underneath the body of the quadcopter was connected to our tablet. We could see the hight, distance and battery status and of course the field it was flying over. We trained starts and (soft) landings and how to use all the control instruments. It was such fun, and I'm sure the people who are going to work with the quadcopter will love it too.
Coming back home I admired our spring basket with the pink hyacinth. It grew every day a few centimeters and got heavier too with all flowers opening almost at once. I tied it to the basket handle as the flowers touched the wall already.
My mixed stripy blanket is growing too. I tried to balance the colours as I found the combinations so far a bit too much. Via ravelry I found out about random stripes and colour generators like this one here and even one for squares here. Amazing what is out there in the net! I have not used the generators though, but bookmarked them for future use.
I visited a tea house the other day with my lovely friend U. It is a small shop where they sell tea and cakes. In a little room at the back of the shop you can also drink tea and eat yummy curries. It's been a long time since I sat in a tea house (in Frankfurt there used to be one a few years ago). In our region I didn't know any, and I was very surprised and pleased to find out about that place. Have to go there more often!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Planting progress

Remember the tiny diy greenhouse? First leafy greens are visible!
As I planted three different types of herbs I wonder if this little green somethings are really two different types as they all look the same. Concerning number three, the perilla, I'm afraid they will not sprout (right side with yellow markers). We will see...
Planted some daffodil bulbs in our "spring basket" two weeks ago. (I bought the bulbs with green leaves and planted them into the basket).
Unfortunately they all withered already. So I replaced the daffodils with a hyacinth, "Kalanchoe blossfeldiana" and mini Chrysanthemums. Hope they will survive a bit longer.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Mixed pattern, stripy blanket

I started to crochet a new blanket a few weeks ago. My second blanket in fact. It's a fun project to play with lots of colour combinations and to learn new patterns! Actually I first planned to follow just one blanket crochet along. Then I figured it would be a good opportunity to try out more patterns. The blanket is going to be large enough to have a variety of patterns. And the list of websites I'm gathering patterns from is growing:

1. Hannah's from "Not your average crochet" (Pdf-document, easy to follow!)
2. Jules' from "Little woolie" and
3. Carina's + Jessica's from "Schoenstricken.de" (Very instructional pictures, written in German)
4. Ana Contreras' from "Lanas de Ana"
5. I'm going to try some hearts-in-a-row from here "Annie's crochet world"

Here is the beginning, the first 18 rows: Besides single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet, I used the Granny Stripe, Catherine Wheel and Star Stitch.
 
Followed by Bobbles and Chevron-Ripples:

Then Waves and Tulips:

Here are outlined clusters (actually trying to make it look like hearts, but I will try another pattern for that), Granny Stripes and Catherine Wheel again.

Followed by another row of Bobbles, Shell Stitch and Star Stitch:

This is what it looks like so far:
Yes, very colourful, very stripy, jumping right into your eyes! When planning this blanket it was cold and grey outside and I felt a need for cheery colours. Hope I will like them in summer as well.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Making scratchy yarn soft

Last year I crocheted the Japanese flower scarf inspired by Lucy's blogpost. I ordered my first ever Japanese crochet book from Japan in Japanese and surprised myself in being able to follow the stitch pattern. It was quick and easy going and such a joy. I used the beautiful yarn Lucy recommended: Debbie Bliss Andes, which consists of 65% baby Alpaca and 35% mulberry silk. Very soft and fluffy yarn. What I least expected of this yarn was that it was scratchy to my skin. What a disappointment! Still I loved the scarf very much and only used it when wearing a polo-neck jumper. Then I came across Kat's blogpost about how to make yarn less scratchy. It sounded quite simple and worth a try. You just need a teaspoon of lanolin, a teaspoon of dish detergent and some hot water. Stir lanolin with dish detergent in a container with hot water until lanolin has dissolved, let the soapy water cool down a bit and add your wooly item. Fill in some more water until wooly item is covered and let soak for a few hours. I let my scarf soak for six hours and rolled it into a big towl to drain. (No rinse with clear water) Then I let the scarf dry flatly on a towel.
And miraculously the scarf was less scratchy afterwards! In the tutorial it is recommended to repeat this treatment until the wooly item is soft enough. Well, for me it was already an improvement even though it is still a tiny bit scratchy.