Friday, 25 April 2008

WIP it good

I'm trying to keep my eyes open right now by drinking a can of Coke, something I gave up a few years ago. Last night was one of those nights you hoped you'd never have again once your baby started sleeping through the night. I stayed up until 1 a.m. trying to comfort an eleven-month-old with a clogged nose, who couldn't understand why she couldn't suck her thumb and breathe at the same time. Then I got woken up again at 4 a.m. and had to stay in her room, curled up in the nursing chair with her in my arms until it was time to get up and get Lucas ready for school.

She's now sleeping blissfully (I hope) in her room, while I tiptoe around the house, trying not to worry too much about my long to-do list. Ah well. How can I be annoyed with her anyway when she's this cute?

Despite the illnesses that have been coming and going, the two little ones are doing well. Tomorrow I'll take them on a bus trip to Cambridge, which will be Sofia's first bus ride. I just hope I'll get enough sleep tonight or I probably won't have any energy to do a lot of walking tomorrow, even if it's in beautiful Cambridge.

Anyway, enough complaining. I haven't done much crafting lately, but there are a couple of things I've been working on. One of them is this amigurumi. Can you guess what it is?

No, silly, it's not a mouse. It's an elephant! It's something that I'm making for Sofia, as she doesn't have a cuddly elephant yet.

The fabric for the dress I'm making for Sofia has also been cut and the pieces are just waiting to be sewn together.

I got the cute flower buttons from John Lewis. I don't know how practical they are on a little girl's dress, especially when the little girl is an exceptionally wriggly one, but they were just too pretty to ignore.

The other day, I thought I'd take out my measly fabric collection and take photos of them to see which ones would look good together. Erm, am I the only one who enjoys looking at her fabrics so much that she has to take them out every day to see and touch them? I'm not, right? Right?

This one's my favourite of the lot. It's an Alexander Henry cotton fabric that I found on ebay. It cost a fair bit, so I decided to buy just half a yard. Problem is, I like it so much that I can't think of any project worthy of it. :)

Like I said, my collection is very small. Yesterday, however, two new pieces arrived in the post!

I was so excited I ripped up the envelope these fabrics came in. They're Japanese cotton canvas fabrics that I ordered from Kitty Craft last week. They're not cheap, but they're absolutely gorgeous and worth every penny. Just look at the cute turtles!

And I love this geometric print!

Kitty Craft was also nice enough to send me a complimentary piece of fabric with my order. And sharp girl that she is, she knew which colourway I was going for and sent me this cute green panda fabric.

Plus, a handwritten thank-you note. How nice! This is what actually drew me to the handmade craft community on the net. Aside from making beautiful handmade stuff, these crafters also know how to put a personal touch to the items they sell.

I took one look at the geometric print fabric and knew at once that it has to be made into a bag. Never having sewn a bag before, I immediately consulted my beginner sewing books to look for the easiest pattern.

I decided to go for Amy Karol's simple tote pattern. So today the new fabrics are going in the wash and hopefully tomorrow evening, there will be some sewing going on!

Friday, 4 April 2008

dude, i (almost) ruined the kaserola

Last month I started feeling that I had lost my cooking mojo. Simple dishes like spaghetti bolognese would turn out either too dry or too watery. My Easter Sunday roast pork was first undercooked, then after another hour of cooking, came out too dry. And don't even get me started on the roast vegetables. Suffice it to say that I felt obliged to eat most of them.

Why on earth I decided to cook braised beef in soy sauce, an untried recipe, despite my bad run in the kitchen I just do not know. There must be a masochist hiding inside me. Anyway, I just decided one day a few weeks ago that instead of cooking my usual beef afritada, which Simon and the kids love (yes, even Sofia!), I would try braised beef in soy sauce instead. So I went recipe-browsing on the internets, found one that didn't call for beer or some other ghastly ingredient I would never dream of putting in my food, and proceeded to cook. The recipe called for dry sherry. We had medium dry sherry, so I poured some onto the braising steak that I bought from Waitrose, added a cup of soy sauce, switched the cooker on, and went into the lounge to play with Lucas and Sofia.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked into the kitchen to find it filled with smoke. Yup, I burned the beef. And the casserole pot. I had completely forgotten that I was using a volatile liquid in cooking, and hence should have kept checking it every few minutes. The beef was unsalvageable, so I had to serve the family a tub of reheated afritada instead.

For days I soaked and scrubbed the pot, and through sheer perseverance, I managed to make it come out clean again. Just in time for cooking a meal for a newfound friend and her little daughter. And what did I cook in my kaserola? Beef afritada, of course.

It took me another few weeks to try cooking braised beef again (yes, there's definitely a masochist in here somewhere). This time I made sure to check the pot every five minutes. And you know what? The result wasn't so bad. In fact, Lucas enjoyed it a lot. So yeah, cooking mojo's back. But I think I'd still prefer beef afritada to braised beef any day!