Chocolate chip cookie monster

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my favourites- they taste of my childhood.  One needs the proper chips for them, however, and these are difficult to obtain in the UK.  Only Nestle Toll House chips will do.  I pleaded with my mother to bring me some this past Christmas and she obliged, so last week I made a batch.

They came out perfectly and were well-received by all who tasted them.  The recipe is here, and for UK bakers, it is imperative to replace the ‘All-purpose flour’ with strong white bread flour.

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A lovely Christmas present

My mum has just retired, so naturally she is busier than ever.  One of her many current projects involves honing her skills as a potter, and thus I am the grateful recipient of an increasing (but not yet large) number of pieces of pottery.

She gave me this bowl for Christmas, together with a dish and a little pot which are also very lovely.


A little hat

I have been doing lots of knitting recently.  It is calming and meditative, a counterpoint to a busy day spent in front of a screen and piles of paper, speaking to people and reading and writing.  I love the feeling of the wool in my hands, and watching progress being made (sometimes veeerrry slowly, sometimes surprisingly quickly!)

One recent project was a little hat for a newborn, which I will shortly send to my colleague who has just had a little baby boy.  It has a bit of lace in it, which might be slightly ‘girly’, but I’m sure we don’t need to be so gender-prescriptive at this stage (or indeed at any stage).

The pattern is here: the story of a hat.  I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, a lovely soft washable wool blend.  I might scale it up and knit it for myself…


Birthday bunting x 2

A long time ago I came across a blog that showed a paper banner made by feeding bits of paper through the sewing machine, which seemed a deceptively easy way to make something very decorative.  I mentally filed it away and thought no more of it until I was playing around with bits of paper to make my mum a birthday card, and thought I’d have a go at making some bunting, which seems to be all over the place in cutesy crafty blogs.  This paper-sewing method seemed to be a way of indulging in a bit of bunting frivolity without making too serious a time commitment to an affection (or affectation) for all things cute.

Making the bunting involved painting some watercolour paper in rainbow washes of colour, waiting for it to dry, and then cutting it into triangles.  I stacked up all the triangles, sat down at the sewing machine, and fed them through.  There were a few snags figuring out the machine’s tolerance for sewing paper and dropping stitches (which is how to get the little bit of space in between each piece of paper) but I got there in the end.

The result made me happier than I have been with a craft project for a long time, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it to actually work.  With most projects I have a vision of how I want it to look, and then I’m a bit disappointed when it necessarily looks different to how I’d imagined it.  This bunting was BETTER than I’d imagined.  Proof that the easiest way to exceed expectations is to lower them first!  I was so pleased, in fact, that I proceeded to make some for my dad for his birthday, and also make some christmas garlands along a similar theme which I’ll take a photo of at some point as they are, in late January, still hanging up in the flat.  I take the view that white and gold garlands are not season-specific, myself.

I neglected to take photos of the completed bunting I made my dad, but I was a bit more experimental with the colours and took a photo of the finished ‘painting’ before the paper was cut into triangles:

I painted this sheet by doing stripes of blue, stripes of orange, etc all quite spaced out, and then trying to fill them in with colours that would contrast next to one another.  A sort of random-yet-planned colour splash.  Up until the final few stripes were applied, I was not happy with how it was turning out and almost scrumpled it up to start again, but once I’d finished I was glad I hadn’t.

The result was very cheerful, and I am sure to be deploying this particular crafty idea for celebratory events in the future!


A little bit of embroidery

I had hoped to feature embroidery here on a more regular basis, but time seems to slip away while I’m not looking!  However, I did squeeze in some embroidery the other day for our first wedding anniversary, as I made Mark a little present to keep on his bedside table.  I won’t show you the finished article (how annoying of me, I know!) but took a couple of sneak peek photos…

As it was our ‘paper’ anniversary, I decided to stitch a message from me as if I’d written a note in pencil on a sheet of notebook paper.  The effect was quite cool, although it took me a little while to figure out how to stitch the letters so they actually looked like my handwriting.

He was very pleased with it.  Next time I stitch something I’ll show you what it looks like when it’s finished…