Tag Archives: DIY

Five Hundred Days Later…

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… I have finally found a way to continue my wallpaper, that is both practical and yields clear-edged results! HOORAY!
I just had to share the news, but will write more about the method, and the looong way there, later on.

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Chocolates & Fudge 2: Dad’s Delight

This, to everyone’s surprise, turned out to be the jubilee’s favourite. The list of ingredients is delightfully short, though I had a hard time buying créme double hereabouts. Apparently no one wants to buy the really fatty god of cream anymore…

  • 75 g of créme double
  • 50 g of butter
  • 225 g of high-quality white chocolate
  • about 150 g of coating chocolate of your choice
  • a pleasing quantity of orange liqueur
  • a deep baking dish lined with baking paper

The preparatory process is straighforward and pretty much fool-proof:

Measure cream and butter into a small pot and melt.

Add the white chocolate broken into realtively small bits and stir occasionally until you have one homogenous creamy soup.

Take off the stove, wait a little and mix in the liqueur (I went with about two tablespoons but will probably give it a bit more next time round) and stir well once more.

Pour it into a well-lined baking dish  – I used a glass one here…

Let cool a bit, then place in the fridge and wait for about two hours.

Cut the slab into equal-sized chunks (I went with 20 for this recipe). The mass is softer than a chocolate bar, but far less so than almond paste, for example.

While you form the little chocolate balls with your palms – and yes, it’s a sticky business, – slowly heat the chocolate for the outside in a bain-marie.

It might become necessary to place the white chocolate cores in the fridge for a little again, before you can dip them in the coating chocolate.

Let the outside chocolate cool down a bit, as well. I had some difficulty, at first, to make it stick to the balls, because it simply was too hot and slid off… Otherwise, it’s just dipping them in, rescuing them with two forks, and if you want to give them the usual “chocolat truffles” look use those same forks to create little spikes all over the surface – something that also only works well if the coating chocolate is more tarry in consistency than soupy.

These chocolates turned out to RULE the after-dinner table. They are unexpectedly creamy on the inside, and the dark chocolate contrasted nicely with the sweat cream. I will experiment with these again, I am sure. And again, and again!

Chocolates & Fudge 1: Rum Yum Truffles

Part one of a little series on my chocolates experiments in honour of my father’s birthday.
As a matter of fact, I have made a fair number of chocolates before, but this time, there were severe restrictions due to the jubilee’s tastes: I was not allowed to use nuts in any form, nor almond paste… DUH!
So I could basically just throw out all my tested recipes and find new ones. This is the first I decided to try.

  • 500 g of biscuit crumbs (I went with a mix of 300 g of egg biscuits and 200 g of ladyfingers biscuits)
  • some real rum
  • 250 ml of water
  • 125 g of shortening (the solid sort, preferrably from coconut oil)
  • 65 g of icing sugar
  • 20 g of cocoa powder (for baking)
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
  • 1 little flask of rum extracts
  • 1 egg
  • about 100 g of chocolate sprinkles of your choice

The process is pretty simple, and doesn’t take long, either:

Crush your biscuits (and ladyfingers) in a bag using a rolling pin, a bottle of water or a pestle AND quite some force and patience. Place in a bowl.
Mix your (real) rum and the water, then pour over the crumbs.

Melt the cocoa shortening in a small pot and let it cool down for a while.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa in another bowl, then add vanilla sugar and rum extracts. Mix well with the egg and the shortening.

Now combine the dark cream with the crumbs; the result should be neither too dry nor too soft. If necessary, add some more rum, or some biscuit crumbs respectively.

Now form little rum orbs. While the recipe I used mentions 15, I got more than 40 out of this amount, so, well… Just make them as large, or as small, as you like. But don’t foget to roll them around in the chocolate sprinkles 😉

This is a really useful everyday recipe. I can’t see where it might not work, since you can always save it with some small addition here or there. It’s also comparatively cheap, but the professional-looking, and tasting, result will make sure no one thinks about that!
I want to try this with a different sort of liqueur now, such as Baileys’, or Sheridan’s – and with a coat of chopped almonds, maybe. Hmmmmm……

La Maison Victor…

… REALLY?! I mean, is it me, or is this one of the cheesiest names imaginable for a DIY magazine?

Maybe it IS me. It might be. I know that (and also why, actually) I find the name “Victor” a particularly funny choice. And yet, I think it’s objectively a weird name.

The magazine itself though was an unexpected and delightful find! I came across it by sheer coincidence when I had to busy myself during a lengthy wait at Cologne Central Station last week.
I’m pretty much  over buying Burdas by now because they tend to repeat their patterns over and over and over, with only slight variations that in no way justify spending good money on the thing every month. I also used to get the Ottobre every now and then, but their simplistic designs don’t really make me tick, I have to admit. The Ottobre is nice for the occasional children’s piece, or a straighforward T-shirt, but nothing even remotely sophisticated. I tried the Patrones but they’re rather hard to come by here, and working with the Spanish text-only instructions is quite a hassle for what you get out of it, I find. Though there are interesting pieces in there, at least. Also, I enjoy the Dutch Knipmode whenever I can get my hands on one of those, because their women’s patterns account for females of more than 1.68 m (unlike Burda… just saying).
My last attempt at finding something new was the German edition of the Italian magazine Boutique, which seems just THAT side of too… hm, ladylike? I know, I know.

But well, I have a very positive impression of the new-ish La Maison, which is orginally a Dutch magazine, as well, and came out, as far as my research tells me, last year in Dutch and French. It’s not a sewing magazine in the strict sense, because they include other crafts, as well. There’s quite some knitting and crocheting – for adults as well as children, too – , plus the interspersed bit of general DIY project, but I think they pull things nicely together, actually.

The layout is clean and professional, the designs quite an interesting mix of sophisticated and wearable. I’m seriously enjoying the detailled instructions, too, though I would not necessarily need them. An illustration here and there just makes things work faster. Actually, I have seen a problematic bit of German instruction here and there, too, so it might be best to use the pictures rather than the text 😉
Of course, since there are merely two editions out in German (though I AM thinking about getting Dutch ones from last year, I admit) it’s too early to decide on La Maison yet. But I’ll keep you posted, especially when I’m going to use their patterns for the first time, which should happen next week. Let’s see how dress “Jessy”, 36, works!!

la maison victor
La Maison Victor

Knitting spree

As I said. Since I’ve got a lot of important things to do at the moment, the urge to immerse myself in doubtful projects has become overwhelming. Buying Birgitta Forslund’s book on knitted and crocheted cardigans has not helped matters, either. So I decided that since I’m close to finishing one cardigan from said book (my very first one, I should add), I might as well let you know about what’s going on.

Birgitta Förslund's book Lieblingsjacken
Birgitta Forslund’s book Lieblingsjacken

I really like the book despite two things: I came across something that must be a translation error – and apparently not the only one to be found in the German edition -, that’s causing me a headache now regarding my cardigan’s pockets. One single wrong word (now nicely crossed out and corrected scrawled in green ink…) can be such a pain in the ass! Then there was this review on amazon.com (about the English original, titled My Favourite Cardigns to Knit) where someone complained that they didn’t like the designs in this book. Seriously? I mean, obviously you don’t have to like them, but why on earth would you buy a book if you don’t care for its content? It seems sort of ridiculous to give it a bad review for not containing what you like… So, I’m currently working on the first sleeve of what’s called the “Florist’s Cardigan,” at least in German, and you’ll see some pictures of the pieces I’ve finished very soon. Before I start putting them together, anyway.
Also, I am delighted by the new wool brand I found through this book’s instructions and yarn recommendation: DROPS. They’ve got excellent wool, at very decent prices – and there are often bargains for certain colours and qualities. I’m using Lima (65% wool, 35% alpaca, 1,70€/50g!) right now, and it’s a joy to work with. I’ve also got some Baby Alpaca Silk (70% alpaca, 30% silk, 2,80€/50g) waiting for the next cardigan, and some Alpaca (100%  well…alpaca, 2,45€/50g) for a children’s vest. I’ll keep you posted on those, as well.

Wallpaper Pattern Boom

00WALLPAPER_VECTOR I’d like to thank the growing number of people who have asked me to send them the file I made for the very dormant Wallpaper Project. Thank you for reminding me that people do read this, and that there are others about as mad as myself out there… Maybe I’ll even get back to writing one of these days, because of those reminders. Or, crazy thought: get back to the WALL.

Wallpaper issues…

Just wanted to let you know that I have not dropped dead from some sudden illness, or vanished for good. There are several reasons why this page hasn’t been updated for some time, most of them to do with stupid Real Life developments.

But, alas, there is another reason why there weren’t any progress reports on The Wallpaper, in particular. After two more or less successful rows I had to face the fact that my MO was not practical, not economically sensible, and not healthy, either.

Not practical, as the cardboard stencil could only be employed with the help of another person to either do the spraying, or fixating the stencil.

Not economic, because to achieve the intended colour density and uniformity, I used up about one can of spray paint per row.

Not healthy because using that amount of paint in a closed space makes said space more or less unusable for at least one or two days; and that’s leaving aside the fact that there’s no way to avoid breathing in the stuff while doing the spraying itself. Short of a gas mask, I mean.

All this doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on the project, though, as I do own a vinyl cutter… A late inspiration, I know 😉 The thing hasn’t been used in years but Internet research assures me there are still ways to get it working, so the Wallpaper Project shall return once I’ve actually figured it out.

Right now I’m looking into mixing the colour of the first two rows from… varnish? lacquer? You know what I’m talking about, to match the existing bits. Although, knowing my stupid perfectionist self there is a real danger I’ll redo those first rows if the rest works much better, anyway……

I’ll keep you posted.