Tiny Rainbow Owls!

From the pattern over here at Ravelry, with more pictures on my project page.

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Owloysuis, Owl Capone, Owlene, Owlexandra… and that’s as far as I got

I’ve been making these owls obsessively for a couple of weeks now. It started when I saw the pattern come up on my Facebook feed, and I knew I just had to make them. I have an idea to make them into a present for a friend, but I needed to get it right, so practicing was a perfect excuse to make a set for myself!

I found a cheap selection of wool on Amazon, with a nice variety of colours to get me started. They didn’t send the colours listed, but that worked out in my favour, because some of the ones they sent wrong were better than the options that should have come. I ended up sending back about 4 out of 8 wrong ones, and finished with an almost perfect selection to work with. I bought a random Orange on a whim when I was in the rag market in Birmingham, and then a pale blue-y green from HabbyCraft because the blues I had weren’t quite going to work out as planned. The new blue is a 4-ply, not a double knitting, but it seems to go with the rest fine.

I also made a little brown owl, which looks amazingly cute, and a bright rainbow one for Dave, who couldn’t decide which colour he wanted. I have almost finished for the moment, I’ve just got a brown one for Amyce to make, but I’ve run out of googly eyes, and I’m not expecting the order to arrive until later this week.

The big project I have planned for them I haven’t started yet. This one needs the saftey eyes, as the regular googly ones I’ve been glueing on won’t do. I’ll be starting that soon I think.

All the wool I’ve used is listed on my project page on Ravelry, and I’ve mostly followed the pattern as specified. I’ve used a seperate colour (gold) for beaks and feet, rather than using yellow or orange from those coloured owls. The brown owl I swapped the light and dark shades, which has worked well.

For the rainbow owl I have used the same number of stitches for the rows, but I’ve done 2 rows each for the first 7 colours (red, orange, acid, shamrock, surf, royal, purple) and then finished off in lilac. Ear tufts in red and orange, eyes in acid yellow, beak in shamrock green. The wings took a couple of goes to get right, but I started off in blue, then the first round was 1 stitch surf, 3 blue, 2 surf. The next round was 3 surf, 6 blue, 3 surf – you get the idea. The next wing was the same, but swap blue and surf as then they can be mirror images of each other. I wasn’t sure whether purple or lilac would look better for the feet, so I made one of each and held them up to the owl to see. I liked the combination, so sewed them straight on!

The thing I love most about these owls is that they are all slightly weird looking. The eyes aren’t quite straight, or the beak is wonky. There’s something different about each one, and they look handmade. I know that I made them and that they are not perfect, and I love that!

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Happy New Year!

And here it is the first post of 2013! It’s been a while since my last post, over a month and a half, but I have been quite busy during that time, so hopefully I’ll be forgiven.

There has been much domesticity, but not necessarily at a Goddess level! I have painted rooms, and stencilled designs. I have altered curtains and decorated lampshades. I’ve done a fair bit of baking, but most of it has been mice pies and mulled wine.

More later, hopefully in the shape of a proper post with photos, but for now I have another wall to paint!

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Pork and Cider Stew

I’ve made this stew in many variations, but today’s attempt was definitely one of the best. It’s especially good served up with some freshly cooked white bread. Probably. I kinda undercooked the bread a little. (shhhh, the other post thinks it was successful!)

Serves 3-4 people depending on portion size. I generally find it serves as many people as are sitting around the table!

Ingredients

500g pork (diced)

2 Potatoes

2 Parsnips

2 Carrots

1 onion

1 tin baked beans

1 stock cube

1 bottle cider

Various seasonings

Method

Chop all the veg and pork and put into a large saucepan with the baked beans. Dissolve the stock cube in the cider and add to the pan. Add seasonings to taste. I used rosemary, parsley, a pinch of Tesco Cajun spices and a big squirt of tomato purée  I also used the cheapest cider that Tesco sells – given that you’re cooking it in with a whole load of other flavours, you don’t really need to splash out here. You can add some cooking apples if you like, it adds to both the flavour and texture. I would have done, but I forgot that we had a bunch in.

Simmer for about an hour, or until it goes gloopy.

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Successful Bread!

image

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November 12, 2012 · 8:28 pm

Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake

This cake reminded me of why I love to bake cakes. I whipped it up in a mad dash while waiting for visitors to arrive, finished it off while they were here and served it up for afternoon tea. And it tasted fab. This is one of those home made cakes that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the shops.

Ingredients:

Standard cake recipe + lemon. Nothing I had to buy specially, which is always nice.

Method:

Again, a standard cake recipe with the addition of lemons. I left out the syrup that you are meant to pour over, but it tasted so nice without I’m not sure I would bother in future attempts.

There are a couple of variations which I think I will be tempted to try at some point. Probably after I have made a few more things from the book though!

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Halloween!

Today is Halloween, and I decided to have a bit of fun this year.

To start with I made some spooky gingerbread using a simple recipe I found online, and some halloween cutters I bought from Hobbycraft for a pound. They came out very well and went very quickly in the office!

Ingredients

Preparation method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.

Decorating

As we were likely to be getting Trick-or-Treaters this year, I thought a few decorations at the front wouldn’t go amiss. I made some silhouetttes from Black and white card and popped them in our front window. (I’ll admit I drew around the cookie cutters for some of them!) Put an LED torch behind the window for an extra spooky effect and ta-daa! The perfect Halloween setting! I couldn’t get a good photo of the window, so here are my silhouettes before I put them up.

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Not-so-standard White Loaf

Something which often surprises visitors is that Tom and I do not keep bread in as standard. When we do have it in, it tends to be just enough for a specific meal and any left overs do not last for long. So when we had visitors to stay last weekend, I decided to be adventurous and make some fresh bread to have with lunch. I decided on the Essential White Loaf recipe from Nigella  for which I had all the ingredients.

I was very careful to check that my yeast was in date, use warm water not ice cold and to knead for at least 10 minutes and then more. Making the bread was really quite soothing, and standing at the counter gently pummelling the dough was an excellent opportunity for quiet reflection and a bit of light stress relief. I felt quietly confident that when I got up in the morning to check on my dough it would be swollen and rounded, perfectly proven and ready to bake.

Nope. It had not grown even the slightest smidgen. But that was OK, my recipe book gave instructions for this eventuality and I left it out on the side for a few hours to allow it recover. We nipped out to run a few last minute errands before our guests turned up, and returned expecting to see it ready to go.

Nope. At this point I decide to give up and just shove it in the oven to see what would happen. I popped it in to bake for half an hour, and while it was cooking whipped up a quick Lemon Cake for afternoon tea. Yes, I will be posting on that later. The bread came out looking bread like, but no bigger than when it went in. In despair I tried to work out what had happened and turned to the only culprit I could imagine – the yeast. I got the tin back out of the cupboard and read the instructions on the back. Oh.

It turns out that this stuff is not your like your easy blend packet yeast. you can’t just bung it in and go. It requires activating in warm water first – you have to mix it in and let it get all foamy before it’s ready to use – who knew! So the next loaf I make I will do it properly, and see if it works any better. Nigella doesn’t recommend this yeast, but I might as well use it up as I have it,  and I can always buy easy packets if it doesn’t work.

The final verdict on the bread was that it was edible, and the flavour was good, but it was just a little bit dense.

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