After what seems like forever, I think I’m finally beginning to shake this chest infection (luckily I didn’t have whooping cough), so ventured outside last night for the first time in weeks. We just went to the nearby woods for a wander and as I’ve been really lax with learning my camera lately, I took it, and one lens, along with me
As well as the usual nature photos, I snapped this one. At first I was really pleased with it, but as I started to edit it, I started to see how I could have improved it. Funnily enough, this makes me really happy, as I tend to rush at things and then be disappointed with the results.
I loved the way the wooden structure framed the church in the distance, although I’m disappointed that I didn’t take the time to centre it, and focus more on the church. I think the grain and detail on the wooden frame has come through really well and love the way the sides slats of the frame are replicated in the floor.
I used the following settings on my Nikon D3000 with a 50mm lens: F/3,5, 1/100 sec, ISO-100. I tried to sharpen up the church and removed the railings at the bottom on the pier using Photoshop; it’s been a long time since I’ve used Photoshop properly and this really reminded me how rusty I’ve become.
I’d love to hear how I could have done this better, so please feel free to comment below.
I was hoping to be back with a new recipe at the tail end of last week but I’ve been laid low with what might be whooping cough (how Dickensian!!), so I haven’t been cooking at all.
Instead, it’s time for a craft update. Can’t actually show you what’s on my desk as it’s basically a heap of crap which has nowhere else to go. Clearing it was one of my tasks for last week but have hardly moved from the sofa. Instead, I’ll show couple of projects I have on the go at the moment.
First up is this gorgeous baby blanket from A Year of Baby Afghans (Book 4) published by Leisure Arts. This one is for the month of March and is designed by Mary C Abadir. It’s the first pattern I’ve done from this book and I’m a little bit in love with it. In fact, I keep looking at the blanket as it’s so pretty. Once downside of the book is that a few diagrams would help for reassurance, but saying that, I’ve managed fine without them. I’m using Drops Baby Merino, which is a 4-ply yarn, in Powder, Light Turquoise, and Light Grey, with a 3.5mm hook. That yarn is thicker than some 4-plys I’ve used and the colours are gorgeous; I’m especially fond of the Powder which is a slight pink hint to it which, when mixed with other colours, gives a gorgeous soft neutral effect.
Another crochet project I’ve just completed (with the exception of sewing in 2 ends), is this Edlothia shawl by Jasmin Rasanen, available for free on Ravelry, worked in Sheepjes Whirl in Strawberries and Scream, with a 3.5mm hook. I am very pleased with the finished piece but the pattern was a bit challenging to understand, perhaps owing to some translation issues. On a positive note, it really made me learn how to understand crochet charts!
Finally I’m still toiling away at the necklace I’m doing, incorporating this beautiful Lost Girl bead by Soul Silver. I have been doing this in fits and starts for about a year and at the stage now where I’d really like to get it finished this week. The flowers are from a pattern in Spellbound’s Floral Beaded Jewellery by Julie Ashford, and the rope design from Beautiful Beaded Ropes by Jill Wiseman.
I’m also at the finishing stage of a silver and copper bangle, using some form folding, at Silversmithing classes, so will hopefully have it home to show soon.
Thanks for looking. Hope to see you again soon..and I promise I’ll have a new recipe soon.
Time has flown yet again but finally getting myself settled back into the swing of life (and aiming to catch up on blogging, crafting, learning, and cooking). I always just seem to want to hibernate when the nights are long and dark.
Following on from my earlier post, Day 3 and other procession. This one was in Triana, just on the other side of the river from the city centre. The streets were jam packed and we ended up waiting for ages because we were at the end of the procession, not the beginning. This really gave me a feel of how the city would be during Semana Santa. After it was all over we stayed in Triana for a bit, visiting a lovely little Abaceria, which had the most amazing cheese and jamon.
During the week we took a stroll up to La Cantina at Mercado de Feria for some tasty seafood tapas and on the way popped into Vizcaina for a drink. It’s an old style bar with sawdust on the floor, where your tab is chalked onto the counter. I loved seeing the barrels from Bodegas Hidalgo, as we did the tour when we were in Sanlucar de Barrameda last year (and got an extra drink from the workers’ barrel!).
I love just wandering around soaking up the life of a city. Here are a few images of my favourite random snaps from this trip:
Oh…I almost forgot – I ate percebes for the first time! I had wanted to try them for ages – they were okay but didn’t taste as exciting as they look.
As I’m determined to remain on a roll blogging-wise, I’ll be back tomorrow with my Thursday recipe. Time for some coffee and crochet now.
If you know me, you’ll already know my passion for Sevilla; it had been on my wish list for years and when we first visited I fell instantly in love, even though we spent a good proportion of the week getting lost! We’ve been back quite a few times since and every time I love it a little bit more. It was my birthday last month, so no prizes for guessing where I chose for my celebration trip.
Because we’ve been a few times before and have lots of photos, I thought I’d challenge myself a bit more this time. I took only one lens and focused more on people and general life. I had a lot of dud photos, as I only got the lens a couple of days before we travelled and I hadn’t had a chance to play around with it but becoming more adept with my camera is one of my goals, so I’m treating it as a learning process.
We were staying on Jesus del Gran Poder, at Plaza del Duque, which is a great location bang in the centre of town.
On the second day of the holiday it was my birthday and I was delighted to discover there was a small procession that evening, close to where we were staying. I’ve always really fancied going in Semana Santa just to experience it once, but Stu thinks the crowds would drive him insane. This one had a Cristo and Virgen. The statues are stunningly beautiful and it’s quite a sight to see them floating down the street.
Some other images from the crowd:
After all the excitement, we needed a drink. I love these mannequins watching over the wine.
Well that was Day 1 and 2, more to follow. Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a bit of the city.
The weeks are flying by this year already, so looking forward to spring coming. I’ve got a few new projects on the go this week. Two are long(ish)-term ones that I can hop in and out of to suit my mood and time availability.
First up, I’ve finally started the Persian Tiles crocheted blanket by Janie Crow. This has been on my to-do list for a while now and I bought the pattern around a year ago, but have only felt like doing it now. I’m using Stylecraft Special DK in 9 different colours.
I’ve finished my first motif and I’m pretty pleased with the way my colours have worked out. I’ll be doing half the motifs in this colourway, swapping out Cypress and Pistachio for Storm Blue and Duck Egg for the other half. I feel the chains in the middle are a bit long but hopefully the sections will stretch into themselves as I start to sew them together.
After my recent forays into cross stitching last year, I decided I’d really like to do some embroidery samplers, so although I’m a bit late, I’m going to jump into the “1 Year of Stitches” project. Whether I’ll stick it out for the whole year remains to be seen but I would like to have a good variety of stitches in my finished piece. I ordered some lovely Dove Grey linen …actually I ordered quite a lot, as I though it was sized in centimetres but it was in inches, but I’ll have plenty for a few projects. I also couldn’t resist the little dinky oval embroidery hoop. I only hope it isn’t too small to work on but if it is, I can always use it as a frame for a mini project and go back to one of my wooden hoops.
The last thing I started this week was at silversmithing classes. I’ve decided my latest project will be a bracelet made of irregularly shaped links and connectors. First link is done, although it still needs a good polish. Doesn’t look much on its own but I’m hoping once it’s finished, the bracelet will be one I wear regularly.
I have to dash now, as really want to start my embroidery project tonight.
I’ll be back soon with more things to show and make.
Well, last year’s attempt at getting back into blogging didn’t quite go according to plan. To be frank, my whole year didn’t go quite according to plan. Nothing terrible happened to me but the year just seemed to fly by and I managed my time very badly indeed. That said, I did 2 beginners blocks of flamenco dancing and also started silversmithing classes, both of which I really enjoy and hope to continue into 2017 and beyond.
Had great times in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, although still haven’t learned to decorate sugar cookies or make quite as many new dishes as I planned.
Beading took a bit of a back seat, with only 3 projects getting finished but have some new ideas and plans in the pipeline and I’d like to incorporate some of my silver work in with it once I develop my skills a bit.
I’ve been crocheting up a storm, it’s such a nice hobby to do on the couch, in front of the tv, on cold dark winter nights.
Again, I’ve failed badly at my attempt to dedicate more time to dressmaking. I’m really mad at myself, as I love clothes and it is one of my ambitions to become skilled at making them. I actually think I may be putting too much pressure on myself, so this year I aim to just chill and enjoy the process.
I’m about to embark on an embroidery sampler project, which I’m really looking forward to – I don’t know many stitches at the moment, so it will be a bit of a journey of exploration. Can’t wait for my linen to arrive.
Anyway, enough chitter chatter, I have a ton of unfinished projects just begging to be completed.
I have no idea where this week has gone; I always think the worst thing about winter is leaving for work and coming home in the dark. It feels like by the time dinner is done and dusted, I just want to have the lights turned low and the flat nice and cosy, which means that really the only craft I do on weekday evenings at the moment is crochet, as I don’t need good light for it. Anyway, there has definitely been a touch of light in the sky the past couple of days, so onwards and upwards.
Last summer I made a dress to wear to the wedding of close friends. I decided that, as I’d been hearing good things about them, I’d try out a StyleArc pattern. They’re an Australian company, but my pattern scuttled its way from the other side of the world really quickly. I chose the Layla dress, mainly because I loved the neckline. I made some basic alterations to the sleeve and skirt style just to make it look a little more glam. (original post about the dress is here if you’re interested.)
I was so pleased with my dress, I decided to make another one. I chose this black and red polka-dot fabric because it reminded me of Sevilla, and we all know just how much I love that place!
Again, I decided to slightly slim the skirt, add a godet, and lengthen the sleeves. I’ll admit I hate my arms, so I much prefer to keep the covered. I’m happy enough to do that because I do love some fancy sleeve detail, as you’ll see in my next dressmaking project.
As I used a stretch cotton, I decided not to bother with lining it, as didn’t want either the dress sagging over the lining or the lining bulking under the dress. It’s always going to be a dress that I wear for a few hours at a time, and the fabric is a good weight (and I’m lazy), so I don’t think the lack of a lining detracts from the dress, other making it look badly finished when it’s hanging up. Luckily no one sees the inside of it when I’m wearing it.
I wore it to a friend’s birthday party at the weekend, styled with black patent tango-style shoes and a waspy belt. I wish my belt had been a bit narrower as I have a really short, high waist, but as usual, I left it to the last minute and couldn’t find one the correct width. I have one on my shopping list now though. Here I am in all finery.
Now, I need to make some nice black jewellery to wear with it.
I’ll definitely be buying more StyleArc patterns in the future. This one needed barely any alterations, other than the design changes I chose to do. The instructions were great and just seemed to make sense (hahah, if that makes sense!). There are a few I’ll definitely be getting in the next month or so because I definitely have the sewing bug now and appear to have overcome my fear of inadequacy.
Just before Christmas I treated myself to a copy of Vanessa Mooncie’s fantastic book, “Animal Heads – Trophy Heads to Crochet”. Once I had looked through it, I wanted to make almost everything, but once I put my sensible head on and told myself I was only allowed to do one until I had some other projects finished, I decided on the bull. It will be perfect in our bedroom, which you may recall from a previous post, will eventually have a Spanish flamenco bar feel to it.
The bull didn’t take too long to do, as he’s mainly done in chunky yarn. Also, there weren’t too many parts to put together. I did find my hands got a bit sore making him, especially my “holding” hand. This is probably not helped by me being a bit hypermobile, as it’s pretty easy to overstretch fingers.
Before I added the embellishments, I had fun pretending I was Kevin Keegan with his curly hair – luckily no photos exist. I would have finished him last week, but I was held back a bit trying to source a wooden ring which was large enough to go in his nose.
I’n not sure he’ll be to everyone’s taste, but I love him so much, in fact he’s quite possibly my favourite make to date. At the moment he’s resting on top of one of the sofas, as he’s pretty heavy, so will need to get hold of a masonry drill to put a rawl plug in to support him. I’d love to hear what you think of him.
As yet, he doesn’t have a name, but I’m on the case (…and open to suggestions).
It’s was my brother-in-law’s birthday last weekend, so I baked him some cakes:
Piña Colada cupcakes – by special request. I even put little umbrellas in them.
I also made jelly and custard cupcakes. These are always a great hit with the little ones (and big ones too!)
The Piña Colada ones were from Love Cupcakes, my hands down favourite cupcake book. The jelly and custard ones are also based on a recipe in the book but I’ve tweaked it so many times it doesn’t bear much resemblance to the original. Here’s my recipe for them:
Jelly & Custard Cupcakes
An homage to that old favourite childhood pudding - jelly and custard...in cupcake form.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees c and line a muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
Put the butter, caster sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of your mixer and beat until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs and mix to combine (don't worry if it looks a little curdled at this stage, adding the flour will sort that out).
Add the flour and baking powder and beat again until combined.
Add the milk and beat again.
Divide the mixture evenly between your cupcake cases, bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean, and turn out on a wire rack to cool.
Once cupcakes have cooled, using an apple corer or knife, removed a section of cake from the centre, taking care not to go straight through to the cupcake case. Fill the space with raspberry jam and pop the piece of cake you removed back in.
To make the frosting:
Beat the butter and vanilla until pale and fluffy
Add the icing sugar and beat, slowly at first, until the mixture comes together. Add the custard powder and beat again to incorporate
At this point, you will probably find the frosting to be a little too thick. Add milk, one tablespoonful at a time, until it reaches your desired piping constituency.
Add the frosting to the cupcakes using either a piping nozzle of your choice or spread on with a palette knife.
I use a very heaped tbsp sized measuring spoon to measure the mixture into the cupcake cases. This will give around 16 cupcakes.
I find squeezy seedless jam ideal for these cupcakes.
I prefer about 4 very heaped tablespoons of custard powder in my frosting, as I like it to be quite custardy.
I like to use large nozzles, as they allow me to cover the cake quickly and easily (cake decorating is not a skill I possess!).
I’m so pleased I’m sticking to my craft project list and not adding anything new until I tick something off. It has helped hugely that my lovely hubster has been clearing out someone the old stuff we seem to hang onto for no reason. It means I have space in there to take photos and set up a temporary work tables and when I need it; it’s just down to me to go through all the bags and boxes of craft stuff I have and get rid of anything I won’t use.
I’m really looking forward to having a more minimal craft stash. As often I find the sheer volume of stuff I have is a bit daunting and ends up putting me off making anything.
I’ve also decided to decorate our bedroom in a Spanish flamenco style. In case you didn’t know, I love Spain, especially Andalucia and dream of living in Sevilla one day. It’s one of those jobs which will take some time to complete así don’t want just go out, buy a ton of stuff, and shove it in the room; I want it filled with Spanish style knick knacks but also want it to reflect our own style and taste.