Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Japanese flower scarf

Flowers in winter, around my neck. That was my motivation for the Japanese flower scarf. I first discovered this scarf pattern here and was immediately spellbound. Since the pattern was not in the Internet I bought the pattern book from Japan via Etsy. It arrived only one week later, very carefully packed. I was a bit afraid at the beginning if I would be able to read the crochet stitch diagram as everything in that book was written in Japanese. But what a joy, it worked out just right, the stitch diagram was enlarged and very clear with international symbols! I have never before worked with stitch diagrams and with the help of translation tables it was easy to crochet along.
As for the yarn I was intrigued by Lucy's description of Debbie Bliss Andes. I searched the net and found Debbie Bliss Andes at eBay. This yarn is really rather luxurious and soooo soft. It was great joy to crochet the Japanese flower scarf, everything so exotic for me from pattern to yarn. And I was almost a bit sad to have finished this scarf.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Onion Tart

I love all things baked. And I love to bake and cook, but mostly there is only time at weekends for cooking. Yesterday Peter surprised me with a delicious onion tart. It's a simple recipe and serves 4 people.

For the pastry:
250 g flour
250 g curd cheese (German: "Quark")
250 g margarine or butter
1 tsp of salt (optional as ham and cheese already contain enough salt)

For the filling:
1 kg onions
300 g ham or bacon
300 g cheese
4 eggs
4 tbs milk
2 tbs flour
pepper, nutmeg, chervil, herbs of the Provence, basil

a) First make a pastry. Mix all ingredients for the pastry and make a dough. If you cannot find curd cheese, try joghurt instead. Spread the dough evenly onto a baking tray.

b) Then prepare the filling. Chop the onions and stir fry them with a little bit of oil in a pan until glazed. Dice ham/ bacon and stir fry shortly as well. (We usually buy diced ham.)
Now spread the onions and the ham/ bacon evenly onto the pastry.
c) Grate the cheese (any type of hard cheese will do) and sprinkle onto the filling.
d) Now whisk the beaten eggs together with milk and flour and add the seasoning. I have used dried seasoning, but you can also use fresh herbs. If you can't find herbs of the Provence you can also use (dried) marjoram, thyme, savory, rosemary and sage. Or just the herbs you like or have in store. Pour the mixture over the onion-ham/bacon filling.
e) Place the baking tray in the middle of a preheated oven and bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes. The pastry should have risen a bit and the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Cut the tart into pieces, serve and enjoy! You can serve new white wine with the onion tart (usually available end of September/ October). It's very yummy! 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Phone cozy

The starling handbag needed a partner, a phone cozy to go along with it. The pattern consists of single crochets and the button is a crocheted ball. It fits the black bag as well, but maybe I'm going to do a black one too.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Starling Handbag

You can never have too many bags! This is what I thought when I first saw Futuregirl's starling handbag. The very talented Alice from Futuregirl did not only write a tutorial which is available in four languages (English, French, German, Italian), she also did video tutorials (very helpful) and a tutorial for sewing a lining into the bag!!! 
I crocheted the bag with soft cotton yarn (Lana Grossa Linea Pura) and thanks to the video tutorials I learned some new techniques. The lining part was not easy for me, as I don't have a sewing machine and generally don't like sewing much. So it took me quite a while to finish the whole bag. But the lining improved the quality of the bag, as the cotton yarn is so soft the bag can't keep its shape by itself. I also added a magnetic button.
Well, before I did the lining part I crocheted a second starling bag with black yarn (Lana Grossa Secondo). This yarn is a bit thinner so the bag is a bit smaller than the beige one, but stability is much better. So the black bag will be used without lining!
 If you are looking for ideas to crochet a bag have a look at this website and here. Jessica from Schoenstricken collected lots of fabulous ideas within blogland. Have fun!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Amineko Family

May I introduce you to Amineko or better to the Amineko family? I first heard about it from my sister who is a real cat lover. The word "Amineko" can be a colloquial abbreviation for 'amigurumi neko' which means anthropomorphic (designed with human characteristics) stuffed cat doll. 'Ami' refers to 'knitting or crocheting'.
Well, my sister bought an Amineko pattern book and crocheted the beige one with scarf. As I love amigurumis, I planend to crochet such a cat myself - and forgot about it. Then a few weeks ago I saw pictures of very cute Aminekos and wanted to do them right away. I bought some yarn (Red Heart Lisa) and a new crochet hook (3,0 mm) and searched the Internet. And how generous, the very talented Nekoyama, who wrote the pattern, has a website with an English tutorial! Thank you so much, Nekoyama!
It is a lot of fun crocheting Amineko. I did the second one right after finishing the petrol coloured one. This time with another yarn which is a bit thinner (Gründl Wolle Lisa). So our shelf is hosting a second amigurumi family (the first one is Totoro and his friends)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Milk Shop

On our way back from the Lüneburg Heath we passed a milk shop. The surroundings looked so much "idyllic world" that we stopped and had a look.

The roof of the shop was amazing:
And behind the shop there were more pretty buildings: 
This one has a traditional pediment of this region, horse's heads: 
There was also a lush blooming flower garden, cows and their calves and a playground-barn. And the milk shop sold not only milk but also delicious cakes. I really enjoyed this stop!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Lüneburg Heath

A 70th birthday party was the reason for a mini short trip to the Lüneburg Heath, just one hour drive to the north. Actually I wanted to drive back home after the party the same night, but Peter insisted in staying over at a nearby hotel. And indeed we spent a lovely day in that area! To beginn with the party, it was very jolly, I met a lot of people and it was quite late when we left. The following morning I started with a swim in the hotel pool. Very refreshing! Then we had a great breakfast in the hotel garden.
They had amazing flowers blooming all over. So colourful and cheery! And I was not the only one loving flower gardens and breakfast: There were lots of wasps flying around our table and tasting our food. You really had to watch out when eating.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Lake Festival

Summer is festival time! So we visited another festival last weekend, this time at the local lake. It takes place every year for several weeks and is very popular. The site is an artificial lake with lots of recreation facilities and water sports. If you walk around the lake you will have done a 6 km walk. And this is what I actually like about the lake festival: you can walk pleasantly along the water with pretty scenery and yummy things to eat and drink along your way. You can stop by to listen to some music from the various stages around the lake. You can have hustle and bustle at the north and south sides of the lake and forest at the west and something in between at the east.
The following picture was taken from the west side of the lake and you can see the dome of the so called "new town hall" in the centre.
Some tranquil scenery:
The north side...
...filling with people.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Totoro Family

Do you know the Japanese animated fantasy film "My neighbour Totoro"? It is very sweet and beautifully painted , suitable for young kids - and adults ;-) I have seen the DVD last year and I was so enchanted by the cute magical creatures that I was searching the Internet for a plush toy. What I found instead was even more fascinating: a crocheted Totoro! Instantly I wanted to crochet one myself, even though I had not taken up a hook in decades and the pattern was written in English in US crochet terms. I really had absolutely no idea how to do this. But the net is fantastic and provided me with tutorials and translations so I could manage to crochet Totoro and his friends, the little blue fellow and the tiny white one.

You can find the pattern here:
Since I got to know Totoro via my sister who lent the DVD to me, I gave the first set of Totoros to her. And did a second set for myself:

My sister's cat loves Totoro too:

Crocheting the magical creature Totoro was the beginning of a renewed friendship between the crochet hook and me. (I have learned to crochet when I was six years old. My mother used to crochet curtains, table runners and beautiful dresses for me and my dolls. I just crocheted some trinkets for my toys but they never turned out as I wanted them to be, so I lost interest) 
I really enjoy to crochet, usually in front of the TV, it's so relaxing!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Water Colours

30 degrees Celsius again! It's been a quite hot summer for so many days that even I love to go to the open air bath. Last Saturday I met with two lovely friends of mine at our local open air bath. N. knows to swim very well and so she taught us how to do the crawl stroke. Well, it contained a lot of water swallowing and toward the end of our swimming lesson I was surprised that the water level in the pool still stayed the same. But thanks to N.'s never ending patience, S. and I did manage some crawl strokes. It was a great morning in the pool, the water so clear and so blue. As the pool began to fill up with people and became quite crowded, we decided to go to a nearby café and had some freshly baked croissants. Hmmm, delicious! I love freshly baked pastry!
On my way back home I crossed the local canal and had a pretty view of the small harbour. How the colour of this waterway differs from the pool! So many shades of blue, I should make a blanket using those colours!