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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sweet hair-clip

I have been meaning to post something for the past week but didn't really get round to it... Too tired and somewhat busy - been working on my spool-knitting. Unfortunately I haven't finished this project yet so I have to post about something else: my Mothers Day creation for instance.
It felt a bit like when I was at primary school, sticking things together and painting them before offering them with all my love to my darling mother. The only difference is that I am a little more than a quater of a century old!
More seriously, my mother became my guinea-pig and I decided to experiment on her what I could make for other people later: nice and original looking hair-clips.

My mother is a brilliant cook. Two or three years ago she decided to experiment baking Macarons. Lovely little sweet things which cost a fortune when bought in a Boulangerie-Pâtisserie in France and everywhere in the world. She managed them so well that she even made some for my wedding! 
So I decided to make her fake and colourful macarons to wear in her hair.

I bought a large hair-clip and some sort of clay (dough) which gets hard simply by drying with air, no need to put it in the oven. Then once the different pieces were dry, I painted them and put a coat of varnish to make the whole thing shine. And finally I glued everything together. On the clip I had glued a piece of white cotton in order to 1) make it slightly prettier 2) for the macarons to stick better.
The final result does not look too bad (my husband even said it looked yummy) - my mother appreciated it BUT I have learnt one thing about this experiment: hair-clips need to be a lot lighter to be worn comfortably. This one is too heavy and therefore it will just be decoration on the shelf ;-)

Lesson: make everything a bit thinner OR find another material to work with.



Monday, 18 July 2011

Spool knitting

A second post today just to give a preview of what I started on the weekend. 
On Saturday being a bit bored and not wanting to sew, I decided to take out the spool knitting mushroom that was in my grand-mother's sewing-box (which is now mine). I had in mind that it was difficult and boring but went for it nevertheless. On Youtube I found a video by the author of http://atelier-fleurdesprit.over-blog.com/ and just followed her simple explanations (in French). I tried with a bit of white wool, it worked out, so on the next day I was in Karstadt taking advantage of the sales and bought 6 balls of yarn. At the end of the day I had knitted 1,45m of it.
What to do with so it? The question was answered by Mouette in her blog: a bag!http://a4epingles.blogs.marieclaireidees.com/archive/2008/09/23/coudre-un-rectangle-regulier-au-tricotin.html
I knitted and knitted, but it came to my mind that for a first time it might be of an ambitious project. I have therefore reduced it to making a money-purse. Last night I had over 2,80m of cord but just about a third of my pattern filled... I assume it will take me some time to complete the project. But I really enjoy it and like the result, then I might ask for a mechanical spool knitting machine for my birthday.
Just take a look at what I had done by lunchtime yesterday:

Baby mobile

Finally it is finished. Very simple to make, it just took me time because I am a bit lazy these days and also because on the weekend I started two other projects (I sometimes find focusing on one thing only a bit boring).

First I got from http://www.vbs-hobby.com/de.html the wooden parts for the mobile and from http://www.spieluhr.de/ (thanks a lot Cristina of Yencamade for the tip!) I bought the music-box. To be perfectly honest I ordered four different music-boxes but only this one is used for mobiles and turns with the music. La Le Lu is the chosen tune.










 And with fleece, ribbons, coton, wool and wadding I made the different elements:
 








 Some were too small and when turned inside out, they looked strangely shaped so I had to make them over again but bigger. I'm not very happy with the shape of my clouds but I guess I just need practice with my sewing-machine on making small objects. The face of the moon was made by hand-embroidery which is why it looks a bit funny from above (see the video).

On the whole though I am quite satisfied with the result and I hope Baby will have sweet dreams thanks to this mobile.
video


Considering getting the plastic holder from amazon (cf. previous post) and just see if it fits. Anybody else had an idea?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Mobiles


I made my first mobile when I was in England. I had received six very sweet German wooden decorations for my birthday and could not find the right place to put them all. And then it came to my mind that putting them all together could produce a lovely effect. My only self-imposed requirement was that it should be in shades of brown so as to emphasize the decorations rather than the mobile itself. I used a sort of brown, thin and supple suede cord, two embroidery hoops of different sizes and a very large wooden button.
I simply love the result and this mobile is hanging throughout the seasons.  

My next attempt was two years later when I was about to celebrate Easter in Germany for the first time. I am so impressed at all the efforts a lot of people make to decorate their homes around here! I just wanted to do the same. I got a bit more ambitious and went for a trickier project, made with nylon thread (difficult to see and to prevent everything to get completely tangled) and all the elements were a lot lighter than for my previous mobile, managing the weight and balance was a real challenge.

But then again the result was quite pleasant and I was quite happy to have my first seasonal mobile.
I made a third one around Christmas time 2010 as well, but unfortunalty I cannot find out in which folder I have put the picture (IF I made one at all in fact).
There is a very good reason for me to show you those: baby will be arriving soon and I am currently making him or her a mobile to hang above the bed. I am a bit slow at doing things these days, so it might be that I will not be finished until the end of the weekend despite its simplicity! But when I will be done you can expect pictures of the process as well as the final product AND possibly a video too.

Before I finish and publish this post, one question for those who read me: any idea of where I could get a sort of "arm" to hang the mobile above the bed? (in German it seems to be simply called mobilehalter ). Something like this: http://www.amazon.de/Sterntaler-Mobile-Gest%C3%A4nge-weiss-Spieluhrmodul/dp/B0015FNU6U/ref=sr_1_4?s=baby&ie=UTF8&qid=1310641894&sr=1-4. I don't like the look of the wooden ones on Amazon and the plastic ones they have do seem - according to the comments - to hang quite low. 
I'd be greatful for suggestions!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Baby's book project - 2

Posting already the second part of the baby's book project as I have done a bit of work on it over the weekend.

Everything being set-up I "just" need to get on sewing and do the embroidery (my favourite activity!). I started with the embroidery and considered doing all of it first and then do the sewing but I still need to decide what's the best way to go: finish a double page and then get on to the next or use one skill at the time and going through the whole book several times...


 To give the pages a bit of thickness and a slight rigidity I am adding a coat of Vilene which can be ironed so as to make one side stick to the cloth.
 








And on one page I have added a squeaky thing (called Quietsche in German and found on this website: http://www.vbs-hobby.com/de.html ).










And despite having done the last page, I still have about 12 pages to go through!


 

Baby's book project - 1

Baby is due quite soon now, about a month to go. I am getting quite impatient but at the same time I still have many things that I want to make to him/her so I am not too much in a hurry. The project that I started last week though will not need to be finished so soon as it requires the baby to be a couple of months old to appreciate it: a book.

Now, it isn't a normal paper or carton book with text, but a soft book of textures, colours and shapes.
I will be showing you pictures of it little by little as I go along making it.
 The first step I took was to make a test with paper, placing the various elements, doing some drawings in order to get a first general idea of what it could look like.

Then I chose the fabric for the pages: a simple white cotton. After much thinking on the size, I cut three (or was it four?) stripes of about 16 cm width and 66 cm length. Then I cut them in the middle and obtained what were to become double pages.

One final page will be 14x14cm, and I have left a space of about 2cm in the middle to sew all the pages together in the end.

After cutting everything I started setting up all the elements of the book and in a next post I will show and tell you more about it ...







Sunday, 10 July 2011

A refreshing drink for a hot day

Pear Milkshake serving two
You just need a blender. Throw in: an ice-cube (or more depending on how cold you want it), three tasty pears, some cinnamon, chocolate flakes, a good 5 table spoons of plain joghurt, a dash of honey and complete with milk (until the wished consistency is reached). Blend, pour in glasses or mugs and add some more chocolate flakes for decoration, a drinking straw for the fun. And... Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

La Tartiflette


Today I will talk about cooking, about a winter-dish. I know currently is summer and one would rather eat a lovely salad, but I have been thinking of this delicious melted cheese for too long now and I need to say something about it!

Le Reblochon... What a lovely name yet so hard to pronounce for most foreigners. Some say it smells like old socks, some would love to perfume themselves with it. I belong to the second category. Wikipedia gives some rather interesting facts about it, apparently the name comes from the language of Savoie (region of France bordering Italy where the Reblochon comes from) "re-blocher" which means to milk the cow a second times. Practice which apparently was used by farmers to cheat on controlers checking the amount of milk and therefore the number of cheeses they were supposed to produce. Anyway, this cheese is very rich in fat and is lovely eaten as such but even lovelier when melted over some potatoes. Just remember to take it out of the fridge a good 10 to 20 minutes before eating it. I would recommend a bit less if you intend to use it for cooking as it would make the cutting easier.

This cheese even has a dedicated website! http://www.reblochon.fr/le-connaitre/index.html 
Now let's come to the recipe itself: La Tartiflette.
Itis a pure delight for melted cheese lovers. The way I have learnt to cook it is without proper measures, I just trust my senses. There are "proper" recipes but then I have always done it this way:

What you need:
- potatoes (quantity depends on number of guests around the table)
- lardons (small cubes/stripes of pork meat and fat) - when I lived in England I often used bacon instead.
- onions
- crème fraîche
- salt and pepper (NO herbs!)
- a reblochon (the size you pick in the shop will depend on the number of guests again)

If you are making it for vegetarians, omit the lardons and either have it normal and plain, or you can try with some mushrooms. It is also delicious like this.

How to make it:
- Take the cheese out of the fridge

- Set the potatoes in a sauce-pan of water to boil them. If they are young potatoes you can choose to keep the skin, if they are older potatoes it is best to peel them once they are ready. In both cases, don't let them go soft as you don't want mash! 

- In the meantime, in a pan cook on gentle the lardons (usually no need for oil as they render fat themselves) then add the onions and get them golden. Take off the fire and add the crème fraîche. You want to have just enough of it to keep the whole dish nice and moist, but not too much as too drown the potatoes and not too little which would make the whole thing dry. Then sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper (to your taste) and put the pan aside.

- Cut the potatoes in an oven-dish and pour over the content of the pan. Gently mix everything.

- Now the cheese. It is a flat round cheese. Cut it in half so has to obtain two circles. Then put the circles over the potatoes, crusty-side looking up (so that the cheesy middle melts on the potatoes).

Place the whole thing in the oven for a good 15 to 20 minutes (until it looks nicely melted and you cannot wait anymore to try it). And then serve! Some people don't like eating the crust, but it is edible and I think it adds a slightly crispy touch to the decadent melting dish.

It does taste nice with a white wine. Personnally I would go for a Riesling but I am no big wine drinker/judge.

Bon appétit!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Little birdies

I talked last week about table decorations for a birthday last year. Well, this year we had another big party for my mother-in-law's birthday and I wanted to make special decorations again. I had many ideas but then when a friend of mine sent me this link: http://www.spoolsewing.com/blog/2008/05/16/bird-mobile/ I knew this was it! I practiced on one and decided it was quite quick and easy to make.

The instructions here: http://www.spoolsewing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/birdpattern1-1.pdf are very well explained and one just has to follow them step by step. Using the sewing-machine makes it faster than doing it by hand.

My mother-in-law liked the idea and we got on making them from old fabrics. They don't look quite has pretty and colourful as the ones on the website but that was ok. When I decide to make a bird mobile for my child, then I will choose the prettiest fabrics ever!
The only thing about my idea was that we didn't realise that the number of birds needed was quite large. By the end of it I had made about 34 birds and was getting sick of them!



 It was nevertheless quite rewarding to see them on the tables (that was around Easter hence the general decoration theme) and again the guests were quite happy to leave with their own little bird.