Apologies ahead!

I must apologize for the quiet days ahead on this blog…

With the spinning, dyeing and weaving for the shop coupled with French classes as well as part-time work not to mention overall care of the house AND the short autumn-soon-to-be-winter days (and include work on some leaky bathroom faucets – well, actually, that’s Nil’s job), I’ve been too tired out to talk about anything much or less blog.

In fact, all I can think about right now is sleep and not that photobook project which I have to rush off and finish – no thanks to a 31 December expiry date and an outdated software which resulted in me having to redesign everything.

It’ll be quiet over the next few days…I hope it won’t be for long.

But I know like with every coming silence, it’ll come to an end quickly enough. Just hang on in there, ya?

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Golden Froggy I

I can’t talk much about this project for a variety of reasons but I just couldn’t resist sharing pics!

Golden Froggy I Golden Froggy I Golden Froggy I

I still have slightly more than half to finish spinning up and then plying but isn’t this just gorgeous? 8)

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The first snowfall of the year…

The view I woke up to on 22.11.2008
Click on the pic for a bigger view!

Nil and I woke up to what is the first snowfall for the year 2008…and later on, it became the first snowy morning of the season, the sign of many to come over the next few weeks. You see, it went from this…

The first snowfall of the year

To this…

The first snowfall of the year

Yes, the flurries have arrived!!!!

And it’ll continue on over the weekend until Monday morning. I guess it’s time to break out the jackets, hiking boots and winter wear officially. A weekend walk in the evening told me that I might just need a hat should it get breezy which it has over the past few hours…I could always knit up one but I already have too many WIPs in progress and no FOs to show for. Awful…just awful. =.=

Getting assignments like this one “alli” sure doesn’t help with the Startitis problem (starting too many knitting projects and not ending them!)

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Cranberry nut muffins!

Cranberry Nut Muffin

It’s been a while since I met up with the girls from the Swiss knitting group on Ravelry; the last time I met them was eons ago in Zurich and since then, I’ve always had an excuse for not showing up. Maybe it has something to do with my lacking of knitting and more of everything else. As promised, I decided to make some baked goodies for the ladies while we chat, gossip and knit away. The question, of course, would be how to smuggle them into Starbucks. But that aside.

These little babies (photo taken above with Nil’s trusty Canon camera) here are a modification of a cranberry poppyseed muffin recipe that I have in one of my baking pocketbooks. I remember seeing some poppyseed on sale at the bigger Coop stores but was too lazy to go all the way there when I bought my supplies last Saturday with Nil. So I opted for some chopped almonds instead. While preparing the ingredients, I realized that I had some hazelnut in as well so why not? The result is a wonderfully moist, not sweet muffin with a slight crunch to it – excellent for tea or breakfast…Nil even gave it his thumbsup with “it’s PERFECT!!!!”. 8)

Note that the recipe originally called for everything in ounces but I work in grams, hence the “uneven” measurements below.

Cranberry Nut Muffin

Ingredients
113 gms unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche*
2 large eggs
284 gms plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
227 gms brown sugar
70 gms hazelnuts & chopped almonds
72 gms dried cranberries
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp honey

* I used about 3.5 dl or 350 ml of crème fraiche

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F. Line muffin tins with greaseproof or baking paper so that they resemble muffin cases. Melt the butter, leave to cool for a minute or two, then beat in the crème fraîche, followed by the eggs and the vanilla extract.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir this gradually into the sour cream mixture along with the cranberries & nuts until the flour is coated but the batter remains lumpy.** It is okay if there are tiny lumps of flour in the batter.
  3. Fill each of the prepared muffin cases with the batter (about 2/3 of the cases) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Test with a skewer – it should come out clean if muffins are done. Lift onto a cooling rake, brush the tops with some maple syrup & honey mix. Serve while warm or for breakfast/tea.

** DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do this step with an electric mixer. It may and often results in overbeating which will give your muffins a dense and dry texture because of gluten formation.

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Superwash Merino in Orchid

Superwash Merino in Orchid - 5 oz Handspun Superwash Merino in Orchid

Orchid
Ply | 3 ply
Yardage | Approx 230 m/150 gms
WPI | 18 (Fingering)
Fibre | Superwash Merino in Orchid
Tool | Serenity Wheel [10:1]

Seriously, I don’t mean to toot my own horn but the base for this colourway is simple amazing! Smooth and silky with a slight sheen, it beats the previous merino which I first dyed as an experiment. That base was more for felting but this one? Ohmy, ultra soft and great for next to skin items!

Because I have too much yarn in my stash, I’ve decided to let this one go on sale at the shop. It’s one of a kind like my other colourways, and I’d most probably churn out some handspun yarn for sale on a regular basis with my own handdyed fibers or those from my stash.

Going back to the process, I’m in love with Navajo plying. Sure, it’s different from the conventional 3-ply but for maintaining colours spun, it does its job well. The first time was a bit iffy, trying to coordinate both hands was not easy but after a while, it’s quite alright. The only complaint I have with plying (overall) is that once you start, you can’t exactly stop. It’s fine if you don’t have much on your bobbin but in my case, I was at least a good 200 over metres on each bobbin. Talk about being glued to the chair!!!!

Still, spinning with a wheel definitely has its perks. 🙂

And oh, just a quick question: what’s fascinating about Playstation 3?

Handspun Superwash Merino in Orchid Handspun Superwash Merino in Orchid

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With autumn now underway…

It’s getting cold and the brown, red signature colours of autumn are fast fading as we head into winter. Everywhere I go, there are signs of the coming festivities – poinsettias, Christmas decorations, Christmas cookies, Christmas chocolates…

Here, Christmas is perhaps the equivalent of Chinese New Year for Chinese people like myself – it is more than just exchanging gifts, but instead is a time for family gatherings and merriment amongst family members. It make me misses home sometimes…especially when here I am dying to put up decorations but because of space constraints (I have turned the living hall into an atelier of some sorts) and naturally, money plus the fact that we won’t be around, Christmas will probably be a quiet, non-decorative affair for us. Well, honestly, I’m more worried about arrangements for the gerbils. I think Nil’s colleague will drop by once in a while to make sure that their water bottle is full and that they are fed.

Believe it or not, I’m still in the summer mood, dressed in my T-shirt and shorts. The heating is not really turned out, so to speak, in our home – the walls are hot enough for the piping – but I get a shocking reminder every time I step out to the post office or just to run some errands. I guess it is time to break out all the wool that has been sleeping away in the cupboard for the past few months.

Anyway, I’m off to catch up on some good old Tales from the Cryptkeeper (just finished downloading Seasons 3 and 4), spinning up some Merri Meric for a swap and yes, more assignments…Hydroxycut, bleh.

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A good week & busy days ahead…

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Even thought half of the shop update is complete, there is the other half to pack up and label, not to mention photograph…and then there is the yarn to be dyed as well as orders & fresh supplies to bring in.

If you are wondering, life has been kind to me despite the autumn cold and foggy days. I still get weird assignments like “diet pill” and what-not and down days. Remember my bemoaning not so long ago about being jobless? Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for any sort of job, really…even part-time work is fine by me.

Imagine my delight when a certain nearby language school called to inform me that they have arranged for two private one-to-one classes for me! I’ll start in two weeks if all goes well…which means a meeting with a fellow teacher to discuss some details and some preparation for the lessons. On top of that, couple with the sale of at least five items out of the seven new ones that I put up for sale…it has indeed been a good week for me!

I must make a note to celebrate this week’s good news as well as give thanks for it! 8)

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Chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Chocolate chip & hazelnut cookies

Sweetness galore…seriously. But if you just want to settle for the smell of freshly baked cookies, this is just what you need!

Now, I found the recipe a bit tad sweet, although it would go very well with espresso or unsweetened black coffee, so I intend to cut down on the caster sugar bit the next time I make it. Nevertheless, it’s very airy and light due to the baking powder. For those of you Malaysians, this is so similar to those yummy Famous Amos cookies!!!!

Oh, if the center dips a little, don’t fret…some cookies are meant to do that when you pull them out of the oven and as they cool. Mine dipped quite a bit for some because I accidentally made the fork (used to flatten them) too wet.

Also, I love my cookies nutty so I used up all the chopped hazelnuts in the batter and sprinkled the top as well with more nuts! Less if you like more dough, more if you like…that crunch!

Chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Ingredients
115g or 1 cup plain flour
5ml or 1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
75g or 1/3 cup butter
115g or 1 1/2 cup caster/fine white sugar*
50g or 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
5ml or 1 tsp vanilla essence
125g or 2/3 cup chocolate chips
50g or 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts**

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F. Grease 2 to 3 baking sheets. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl before putting it aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until it’s pale and light with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until well combined. Add in the flour gradually on low speed and mix well.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and half of the hazelnuts, using a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheets to form 2cm mounds. Space the cookies 2.5 to 5cm apart.
  5. Flatten each cookie lightly with a wet fork and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on top of the cookies.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and leave to cool.

* I’d cut down on this since I find the cookies too sweet for my liking
** You can replace this with almonds, walnuts or cashews…it’s up to you!

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