28 August 2011

What?! Hold the presses! It's.. an FO!

An FO you say? No way! Un-be-lie-va-ble! Made by me? Made by me! I'm just as astounded as you all no doubt are.

Here's the deets.

A whole 17 days ago, my brother's best friend and his wife (I say this, but I mean mainly his wife, since she did all the work) had a baby. A lovely, adorable little girl. And since I love babies (and also love to give them back to their parents when they turn into pooing, screaming monstrosities as babies sometimes do), I quickly wanted to come over for some baby cuddles. But not without presents!

Besides a little bib with the logo of the festival we went to last week (and where the new mommy and daddy couldn't go to for obvious reasons, something they both were pretty miffed about) and a little crinkly fabric book made for tiny baby hands, I had to give them something handmade.

Yep, Mini-Me is too small to model the hat properly.

A ducky hat! Or chicky hat, depending on how you look at it. Personally, I'm going with ducky. It's a simple, single crochet hat worked in the round, with the hardest part to it being keeping an eye on the measurements. It's the right size for a baby between 3 and 6 months old, so perfect for when the weather is going to turn cold, and especially perfect because apparently, all the hats they had were newborn-sized and won't fit come December.

It's made from acrylic baby yarn with some bits and bobs of leftover orange and white to add the beak and eyes. The eyes were finished with a black waterproof marker, since my normal method of making eyes involves black yarn and a needle and usually results in lumps on the back of the eye, something I didn't want in a baby hat.

Mummy and daddy were very happy with a hat that would actually fit, and baby was very happy with her baby cuddles, and fell asleep in my arms while we were dancing around the living room together. I might have to go and visit again soon, baby cuddles are addictive!

25 August 2011

Back from holiday!

Ooooh, it's been a while! I can explain, honest. See, I was on holiday for most of August! First, we went to Scotland for a guild barbecue and meet-up, then we got back and were home for one day before we left for Lowlands, a music festival! Busy month, indeed.

But first things first, because I have some good news! My thesis, the one you may or may not have heard me complain in great detail about, that monster that gave me headaches, temper tantrums and stress-related meltdowns, is done and graded, I got a 7 out of 10, I am officially done! Woooo!

And by 'officially' I mean 'done by all standards, but not yet recognised as such because the Uni is being a horrible pain in the general behind area'. I've got until the 31st of August to get them to confirm my graduation, or I have to re-register as a student just to be able to graduate... Gotta love burocracy.

Anyway, on to more interesting things: holiday pictures!

Our trip took us from Amsterdam to London, where we met up with friends living there. On Saturday, we began our trip to Scotland by driving up to the Lake District and checking in to our hotel just in time for the England-Wales rugby match. I saw my first real rugby match on tv! It was awesome! I did my best not to bother our friend, who used to play rugby himself, too much about rules and the how and why of the game, but it was difficult. Such a strange game to watch! And such a strange audience to watch it with, as well! We were staying in a hotel with a sports bar so the pub was packed with people, both supporters of Wales and of England, but there was no awkward hostility between the rivalling fans like you'd get with a football match. (unlike the next day, when we watched Manchester United against Manchester City and people almost got into a fight over it)

The town we were staying in was a lovely little place that had turned into a tourist nest, called Ambleside. There were streets where literally every house was turned into a B&B. Hotels everywhere. Outdoor shops everywhere.

Unfortunately for us, the weather had turned from sunny and warm to rainy and blegh, so the trip we took on Sunday to see a bit more of the Lake District was mostly done from the car. Link

Our trip took us to the stunning Wastwater lake, a large, stretched-out lake in the middle of nowhere (literally, I think the road we took was a paved-over goat trail) that was voted as 'Britain's Favourite View' on a tv show in 2007. Unfortunately, my camera's batteries died right after I took the first two pictures, but in hindsight, this may have been a good thing. I don't think I would have wanted to leave if my camera had worked.

Our trip took us down to a town similar to the one we stayed in, called Keswick, where we had lunch in a very crowded little café.

On Monday, we continued on our way to our destination: Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland. Inhabited by about 400 people (if not less) and about 10.000 sheep.


They were everywhere.

I won't bore you with endless pictures of the week, because thanks to the rain we did not do a lot, except..
Drink and make merry...

And roast bits of meat and veggies. The rest of it... well.. Let's just say that what happens at a Vintage barbecue, stays at a Vintage barbecue. Or as we put it:

Oneshotting bosses and wiping on trash. Or rather, oneshotting Sambuca and wiping on stairs.

Our trip home took us through the Peak District, where we were once again wowed by stunning views down into valleys and up along mountains. This was taken across the road from the Cat and Fiddle inn at the Cat and Fiddle road, which is infamous for the high number of accidents among motorcyclists.

Since I don't bring my camera to a festival, this is where the holiday pictures end. I enjoyed our annual get-together, loved seeing old and new faces, finally meeting some of my guildies who I have only heard on Mumble or Vent or seen on pictures, though I would have loved to have seen more of our surroundings as well. Scotland, the Lake District, the Peak district.. I would love to come back some day and do a proper holiday with lots of exploring and enjoying your stunning countryside. For now, I'll leave you all with one of the very few touristy pictures ever taken of me.

I do a fabulous dork wave, don't I?

1 August 2011

Blueberry fields forever

Oh man, I wish... I love blueberries. Have I ever told you that? Well, it's the truth! They're so lovely, tasty, tart yet sweet, kind of like grapes, only not tasting like grapes. You know?

It's the summer, you see. It makes me crave blueberries and strawberries and raspberries and grapes and watermelon, even if our summer so far has been.. well, lacking actual summer. Today was the first nice and sunny day in weeks and I celebrated by parking myself indoors at the hairdresser's and spending 3 hours getting my hair dyed and cut. Bad planning? Bad planning.

But then I went home and made these. Oh, how I love these. They're sweet, but not overly so, thanks to the lovely blueberries, but the crunchy sugary topping is lovely and makes biting into one a real treat!
I also made these using buttermilk. Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but here in Holland, we don't normally use buttermilk for baking. We use it for drinking. At least, we do in our family. But this idea of using it instead of milk had me intrigued. What would it taste like? Would it affect the batter? Or the scent? Is it that much thicker? Would it complement the blueberries or would it distract? The BF was sceptical, because he does not like buttermilk.

I decided to go for it. And this had little to do with the fact that the milk in my fridge went bad. Or, well, it had a lot to do with that, but that's besides the point. The BF thought the batter smelled horrible, thanks to the buttermilk, but once baked the buttermilk scent was gone. So was the taste. We both have no idea why one would use buttermilk over regular milk, though, so if anyone has an explanation, I would love to know why!

But when putting the buttermilk issues aside, I can only come to one conclusion: These muffins are delicious, and, provided there are any left, I shall be having one for breakfast tomorrow morning. With a cup of coffee.

Blueberry muffins
(makes about 12)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/4 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup blueberries
sugar for sprinkling

Oven: 200 C.

Line a muffin tin with liners or spray the tin with baking spray or grease it with butter.
Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. Add the vanilla extract and the egg and stir until smooth.
Add the milk and flour, alternating between the milk and the flour mixture until all the flour is gone. Check consistency, if it's too thick, add a bit more buttermilk. It shouldn't be runny, but it also shouldn't be cookie dough.
Add the blueberries and stir them in carefully.
Divide the batter over the liners, if your tin is like mine, you should be able to get 12 muffins out of this batch of batter.
Bake the muffins for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean (or purple, if you've just stabbed it into a blueberry)