D.I.Y. // Hearty Pin Cushion & Box

Today I have a little D.I.Y. for you: a pin cushion-box-set.

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My mum had this very old but practical little plastic box/pin cushion-all-in-one set. That kind where you have a little box to store your pins but also a little pin cushion on top, so you can use it for storage as well as work with it. Naturally plastic wears out, so a little while ago the box broke and mum has been looking for a new one for months. In the end, I bought a little wooden box and decided to make one myself. And today I’d like to share with you how I did it.

This little project is one I like for various reasons: it’s cheap (I went under €5, especially because it includes things you will find in most households anyway), it’s easy (suuuuper-easy, believe me), it’s quickly done (because it’s so easy) and there are thousands of possibilities in terms of colours, size and looks. I used a heart in a different colour to be in the centre of the pin cushion, but in fact you can use any shape you want, a star, a rainbow, even a unicorn I guess (given the fact you can cut out a unicorn free-hand – I couldn’t). And above all, it looks cute.

First, I spray-painted the little box gold (mainly because I still have so much spray-paint left-over and because I really like using it). Then I collected all material I wanted to use: two different colours of felting (you can go with only one colour or with even more, if you like), a needle and matching thread (I used pink, but blue would have looked great, too), a pair of scissors, darning wool, a few safety pins and some mod podge(1). 

I used a plain sqaure of 13×13 cm in pink (the box is about 5 cm in diameter), folded it in half and cut out half a heart in the centre of the felting (2).

Bild 2I cut out a smaller square of blue felting (the size depends on the size of the heart, it should be slightly bigger than the cut-out heart) and attached it on the back (3), handstitching along the edges of the heart (4).

I put a small fist-full of darning wool in the centre of the square (still on the back where you can only see the blue square obviously), brought the four corners together and used a few wild stitches and two safety pins to bring the edges together and turn it all into a little round-ish package. As you can see in the picture below, my stitches are really wild and this looks rather unprofessional – but the safety pins (from which you can only see one, because the other one is covered by two or three layers of felting) are really helpful, especially if you are using a really thin thread like I did. 

Bild 3

Eventually, I applied some mod podge to the lid of the little golden box and put the pin cushion on top. It took about 12 hours to dry but now you can’t even see the safety pins. I put in some pins and also stuck some into the pin cushion and voilà – the gift was ready to be presented to my mum (who, by the way, is really happy to finally have that old, broken plastic box replaced). 

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Last Minute SOS Christmas Spirit Supply | WEEKEND WIND UP #55

Have you found your Christmas spirit yet?

No? (If you have, just pretend you haven’t and go with it. Or just read on to find out how to play out your Christmas fantasies.) 

Well, it’s two days before Christmas, so you better hurry up and find it!

If you’re not in the mood for some quality time with your friends and family, gift wrapping and unwrapping, charol singing, decorating your tree and kissing under the mistletoe, I know exactly what you need.

You need Diesel.

Diesel is the Spirit of Christmas (at least he says so) and he is a ficitional character brought to you by Janet Evanovich (one of my favourite writers, which you probably know by now) in her Stephanie Plum Between-The-Numbers Novels.

You probably guessed it: whether you are eagerly awaiting Christmas or not – “Visions of sugar plums” is the perfect book for you in any case.

Still not quite excited about the upcoming holidays yet?

Hm.

Have some cookies, maybe that’ll help.

And listen to some (or all) of these songs:

Okay, now if all of that hasn’t put a smile on your face, you’re a tough case.

Then I’ve got only one ultimate solution to finally get your Christmas cheer going: booze.

How about some candy cane coffee?

You need a cup of coffee, one teaspoon cocoa powder, one shot crème de menthe and a candy cane for my version. (Alternatively, you could follow this recipe video.)

That was The Last Minute SOS Christmas Spirit Supply brought to you by coffeerocketfairytale. 🙂

Have a very merry Christmas and a couple of wonderful days with your loved ones!

Christmasicle | WEEKEND WIND UP #55

I HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE.

I’m Christmas-crazy.

Yep, it’s true. I’m totally hooked on everything that has something to do with December, an especially December 24, 25 and 26.

I love everything about it: the glamour, the lights, the snow, the trees, the candles, the cookies, the Christmas decoration, the number of books you can only read that time of the year because they are Christmas-themed, the infinite loop of Christmas songs on the radio,…

I suspect it has something to do with New Zealand.

In New Zealand, Christmas happens to be in summer and summer and Christmas are just two words I find incredibly hard to name in one sentence.

It just doesn’t work.

Christmas parties and BBQs at the beach are awesome and all but to someone like me who grew up knowing Christmas as a winter holiday  it seems very odd.

Wellington Christmas tree {pic: own}

The Christmas spirit in Germany is just totally different to what I’ve experienced in New Zealand (and also in England, despite the fact that experience shows there is indeed a tiny possibility of having a white Christmas in England, too).

Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed both experiences, but nothing beats Christmas at home.

We usually have white Christmas lights and subtle decoration – no rainbow colours, no blinking, nothing too crazy.

We have Christmas markets where you can buy all sorts of presents, ornaments and lots and lots of Glühwein (mulled wine).

Christmas Market in Germany {via bonn.de}

And we are given our presents one day early, on Christmas Eve, when we usually have a nice family dinner in the evening and get the gifts afterward.

Aaaaanyway – now that I’ve told you a lot about my Christmas experiences (seriously, you wouldn’t believe it, but I could go on for hours and hours despite the fact that I might repeat myself…) it’s time for a little goodie for you!

For these delicious cake-sicles you need

  • 120 g margarine
  • 120 g sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder & 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 g milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chocolate (or chocolate drops)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Christmas mix (= cinnamon, clove, anise…)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds

As with any of my cake-sicle recipes, you don’t have to make these in a cake sicle tin – you could use a muffin tin, heat-proof cups or miniature Bundt-cake tins instead. Or whatever else you find in your kitchen drawer. Be creative!

Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes, then melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler and coat with the chocolate before decorating your little Christmas treats with whatever you like. (I used little pieces of Christmas-themed chocolate bars with nuts and almonds.)

Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas time!

P.S.: More on Christmas baking here and here!

P.P.S.: Still waiting for the real snow, but the WordPress snow is on! Yay!

The Big Knit | WEEKEND WIND UP #46

When I was ten or eleven years old, I knitted a scarf.

It was long and blue and the stitches were uneven.

After seeing my nana knitting perfectly even stitches, I gave up on knitting, deciding it was nothing for me.

A few years later, I turned to crochet instead (and I love it! Right now I’m making a blanket!), but now I finally re-discovered knitting.

It all started with a little brochure inside one of mum’s magazines, telling me about “Das große Stricken” – “The Big Knit” – where you knit little hats for smoothie bottles and for every behatted bottle that is being sold in a supermarket, 30ct go to the German Red Cross.

A cute idea, I found, so I started knitting again.

Other people knit little animals, vegetables and other cute little things to put on top of each smoothie bottle – compared to their works of art, my first attempts look very poor…

But I keep knitting anyway. ‘Tis early practise only makes the master.

And what are you up to these days? Do you want to get knitting, too? 

Go here for a beginner’s tutorial!

Autumn Baking

Autumn is pumpkin time – naturally, I’d like to show you today how to make pumpkin pie.

What you need:

200 g flour

1 tablespoon sugar

125 g butter

1 pinch of salt

~ 600 g pumpkin (I used hokkaido)

4 eggs

2 tablespoons sour cream

5 tablespoons golden syrup

cinnamon, cloves,…

Cut pumpkin into cubes (use a spoon to get rid of the seeds) and spread on a baking sheet. Cook at 200°C for about 20-30 minutes or until the pulp is soft. (If you use a steam oven, 15 minutes will do.)

In the meantime make the dough: mix butter, sugar, flour and salt. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of cold water, if necessary.

In between two layers of clingfilm – just like I did when making my apple pie the other day – roll out the dough and put it in your pan.

Put the pan into the fridge for about half an hour.

Mash the pumpkin pulp (use a food processor!) and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Spread the pumpkin pulp over the base of your pie and cook at 180 – 200°C for 30 – 40 minutes.

This pie is super-easy to make (even easier than apple pie, actually) and I especially love the bright orange colour.

Last minute lecture on photography

I’m going to a wedding tomorrow.

Except… I’m not invited.

Well, don’t get me wrong – I am welcome there.

I’m just not going to be a normal guest.

I’ve been “hired” by one of my best friends to attend her sister’s wedding as a photographer and waitress.

{via dpreview.com}

Working in hospitality since I was 15, it’s not the waiting job that bugs me.

During my journalism training, I bought a wonderful DSLR camera – and was able to handle it, too.

Until that fateful day we wrote a test on the theory behind that damn thing – and I got everything mixed up and can’t remember a single thing about it ever since.

True story.

F-Stop, aperture, shutter speed, ISO – when I hear these things I get that same cold shiver down my back I got in secondary school during Maths and Chemistry lessons.

So I just did some last minute research and came across this wonderful tutorial and these brilliant pages which helped me a little bit.

But anyways – what I was originally going to tell you about was my little prezzie I just prepared for the bride and groom.

I think I’m not expected to bring something, because technically I’m staff, but I just think it’s a nice gesture to bring at least a beautiful card or something along.

So I designed and printed a “Congratulations” card and then turned to the Goddess of Baking, Bakerella, for advice.

She posted a cookie mix-gift-idea (called “Cowboy Cookies“) a while ago and I’ve been wanting to try this ever since.

Last week I found some suitable mason jars, so I quickly made up my own mix (changed it only slightly) and labelled it appropriately enough “Wedding Cookies”:

250 g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder & some baking soda

220 g oats

200 g Smarties

120 g brown sugar

100 g white sugar

70 – 100 g chopped peanuts

All they have to do now is mix everything in a large bowl and add either 250 g melted butter or oil and one egg, form little balls and put them on a tray that goes into the oven for about ten minutes.

Depending on the size of the jars you use, you might want to add some more peanuts (or Smarties, if you’re able to estimate the remaining capacity by the time you add them).

Chocolate-raspberry tarte | WEEKEND WIND UP #42

Feels something like summertime…

It’s about 28°C outside, blue sky, sunshine and the perfect time for raspberry cake, the ultimate summer treat.

The traditional raspberry cake as I know it from my nana consists basically of a sponge cake base, butter cream, raspberries and glaze.

Another very delicious but relatively unusual version is a chocolate-raspberry tarte which I’d like to show you today.

The best part is that the only the cake base needs to be baked, the filling just needs to be chilled in the fridge.

For the base you can either use the same recipe as I used for my Chocolate Fudge Pie  or you can make shortcrust pastry (made out of flour, sugar, butter, egg, baking powder).

Bake it for about 15-20 minutes, let cool on a wire rack.

For the filling you need

100 ml cream 

250 g raspberries (+ some more for later) 

150 g chocolate 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

50 g butter

Melt the butter and chocolate and add the cream. Crush the raspberries in a blender and add to the chocolate mix. Add cocoa powder, stir well and heat mixture while constantly stirring.

Pour mixture into the cake shell, top with additional raspberries, chill for several hours in the fridge.

I made a bit too much dough and filling, so I used my muffin tin (because I don’t have any other small cake tins, since I dumped my old tartelette tins the other day because they were really old and started to rust…) to make two little versions of the chocolate-raspberry tarte.

I can’t decide which cake I like best – the old-fashioned-traditional-reminds-me-of-nana one or the tarte…

Do you have a favourite summer cake recipe? 

Crochet Craziness IV – Granny Squares | WEEKEND WIND UP #41

I have already announced it yesterday – today I have a granny square-tutorial for you.

I decided to keep it as simple as possible and take pictures of each step, so that you can easily follow what I was doing.

Make sure you know the basics before you start (it’s less upsetting when you know the stitches before – trust me, I speak from experience!).

You find basic stitches and crochet tipps here and here.

Click the pictures to enlarge.

Start with a chain of six stitches (1). Pull yarn through the first stitch (2) to close the round (3).

For the first round, start with three chain stitches (1). Pull the yarn through to make a double crochet stitch (5,6).

Make another double crochet stitch (7,8), then 3 chain stitches (9).

Add three double crochet stitches (10), three chain stitches, three double crochet stitches, three chain… until you end up with a tiny square (12).

And that’s basically it.

The pattern for the inner round and the first round is: 

ch ch ch ch ch ch – – – o

ch ch ch –  dc dc – – – ch ch ch – – – dc dc dc – – – ch ch ch – – – dc dc dc – – – ch ch ch – dc dc dc – – – ch ch ch 

Now, if you want to continue, just go ahead, but if you want to change the colour to have the second round in… let’s say turquoise for instance, you need to tie a knot and cut off the white thread.

Pull the new (turquoise) thread through one corner and repeat steps 1 to 12 – with one little change: in every white corner go three double crochet stitches (dc)- three chain stitches (ch) – three double crochet stitches. Between the corners, there is just one chain stitch.

So the pattern for the second round is:

(corner 1) dc dc dc – ch ch ch – dc dc dc —– ch —– (corner 2) dc dc dc – ch ch ch – dc dc dc —– ch —– (corner 3) dc dc dc – ch ch ch – dc dc dc —– ch —– (corner 4) dc dc dc – ch ch ch – dc dc dc.

Any other round follows the same principles – there are always three double crochet stitches, then there is either one (between the corners) or a group of three chain stitches (in the corners).

You can add as many rounds as you like and use as many colours and different types of yarn as you can possibly find.

I prefer to use crochet yarn, but wool or embroidery cotton works just as well.

Apparently, Luigi likes wool best.

And now – let’s go crocheting!

Blanket of all sizes, shawls, ponchos, skirts, pillow cases, rugs… granny squares are miscellaneous and stylish and we are looking forward to hear what you are making of granny squares.

What will/would you use granny squares for? 

P.S.: If you have any questions or if anything isn’t quite clear, don’t be afraid to ask. Luigi and I will happily reply to comments and emails! 

Crochet Craziness III – Some more basics

While doing all the tidying out and cleaning and everything, I took a break or two (or three or four or actually… well, you I think I get my point across).

And during that break I started a new project.

For about a year now I’ve been wanting to crochet a granny blanket – and I finally started!

Tomorrow, I’m going to show you how to crochet granny squares but before we get started we have to make sure to know the basics.

(Make sure to have a look at Crochet Craziness I, where exactly one year ago I put together a photo tutorial on how to start crocheting!)

On zzzebra, a German website for kids, I found a great tutorial for one of the most basic stitches, the double crochet:

Basically, you pull the yarn over the hook, insert the hook in the next stitch you want to work and pull the thread through the first two loops.

Then pull the yarn over the hook a second time and through the two remaining loops.

Too complicated?

Sorry, my explanatory skills might not be the best, but why not have a look at an even more detailed step-by-step guide here?

And if you need to start right at the beginning, have a look here, there is a great slideshow that explains how to start with a chain.

Luigi and I are now going back to work on some more granny squares (and granny square tutorials) to show you tomorrow.

Fairytaleicious revisited | WEEKEND WIND UP #28

The more I bake, the more is being eaten.

It’s ridiculous when you think about it.

There were times when I would do some baking every fortnight, then I’d bake every weekend – and now I bake a few times a week.

Take this weekend, for instance.

On Friday night I felt like having a cake. And in saying that, I mean a simple, big, delicious stirred cake. One that would last at least until Tuesday.

Well, today is Sunday, the cake is gone and I was back in the kitchen, because my family told me how much they’d appreciate to have more cake.

So I made cupcakes instead.

I wanted to keep it simple, so I went back to the Fairytaleicious Chocolate Cupcakes à la Sabrina I made in October.

But I also felt a little bit adventurous and decided to go with another topping.

Instead of the chocolate icing I used last time, I decided to go for cream cheese topping.

I still had some cream cheese at home from the other night when I tried to make Oreo Truffles – but let’s talk about that another time.

So for the frosting, I used

  • 125 g butter (room temp.)
  • 125 g cream cheese (Philadelphia, actually)
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • a few drops vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • yellow and red food colouring

I mixed the butter with the cream cheese, added sugar and vanilla essence and then poured half of the frosting into another bowl. I added a few drops of yellow food colouring to one half of the frosting, a few drops of red food colouring to the other half.

Then I filled a pastry tube with the yellow frosting and put it on top of the cupcakes, later I finished off with the red (or actually pink) frosting.

Now my cupcakes look a bit like sweet little roses.

I am actually quite happy how they turned out – especially when you take into account that when I made the dough for the cakes, I didn’t use as much liquid as the recipe required, so the cakes are quite dry.

But the sweetness and moisture of the cream cheese frosting totally makes up for it.

What’s your favourite frosting?

I’m always on the look for new recipes and I find that especially with cupcakes you find thousands of good recipes – but try and find a good recipe for a topping… it’s like looking for the proverbial needle in the hay stack.

So if you know of a good recipe for frosting/icing/topping, please let me know!