Friday, August 24, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

As of last weekend, we've been living in Edinburgh for two years. This called for celebration! So I made some lemon bars.

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These are my approximation of the Pink Lemonade Bars from Smitten Kitchen. The only deliberate changes I made were using strawberries instead of raspberries (because that's what I had on hand), and using only about 2/3 of the butter called for in the base. I also accidentally used icing sugar instead of granulated sugar for the base after misreading the recipe. Not sure how that happened, but it turned out fine.

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They turned out really well, despite the fact that I nearly burned them. (Icing sugar to cover up the borderline charred spots, FTW). The first time I made lemon squares / bars years ago from another recipe they never set properly, and I was left with lemon gloop. Delicious, but not exactly what I was aiming for. This time, it took longer than it was supposed to, but they did definitely set, and I could cut them into bars without (too much) mess. Hurray! I'm glad they turned out, since I so rarely do fancy baking - things with sugar dusted on them? Things that need to cool before cutting and devouring? What?

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The strawberry addition was nice, and smelled really good while cooking, but wasn't overwhelming in the finished product. That's cool - they are meant to be lemon bars after all. Next time I'll try the recipe with raspberries as written and see how it goes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

FO: Bunting

The Bunting cardigan for my little cousin-in-law is finally finished. It feels like ages since I finished anything! I'm very pleased with it, and I hope it fits the recipient this winter.

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Pattern: Sweet Bunting by Laura Chau

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK. To avoid buying an entire ball of a third colour, I dyed a small amount of the main colour with some Wiltons icing dye.

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Notes: As you can see, I didn't end up using buttons or anything. It's just too cute as it is, so hopefully it stays on the baby. There were no mods that I can think of. My colourwork is a bit lumpy in spots, though blocking mostly sorted it out. The underarm grafting is also kind of bulgy for some reason, but I'm hoping that's only because I photographed it flat - maybe worn it won't be so bulgy? Clearly I need to practice my kitchener stitch.

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From this project I learned that I don't hate colourwork done flat in small doses, though I'd still rather do it in the round. Steeking, here I come! I also learned that I can't purl the English way. Also, that baby knits are adorable, but in sport weight they aren't necessarily super quick!

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See more FOs via Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

button heaven

Well. The week kind of got away from me there. I blame the sun. The sun! The last few days have been absolutely lovely, and I've spent lots of time outside away from the hopeless little screen. (But probably not enough.) Glorious. This is our summer, so I should enjoy it, since it'll be proper Scottish weather once again soon.

Ahem. Anyway, I did go to Duttons for Buttons when I was in York. How could I not?

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The ground floor is where the buttons are. It's small - there's enough room for a few people to turn around in, provided nobody is flailing excitedly. The small size adds to the impact of the button-covered walls, however.

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Since each box has a tiny compartments filled with each of the button varieties shown on the outside, the actual number of individual buttons in this shop is staggering. SO MANY BUTTONS. It was great fun poking around in there.

The rickety stairs up to the other floors beckoned, so up we went. Since it was pointed out on my last post about York, I feel a bit bad about how many of my adventures require decidedly unaccessible locations for those with mobility issues. I'm very very lucky that I am able to walk extensively and climb stairs, and in my situation of privilege I don't automatically think of those who have different abilities. The fact that I can do these things while others can't is sad and unfortunate. There is obviously work to be done - however, in some cases I'm not sure what can be done. Installing a lift in an tiny old medieval house like Duttons for Buttons? Yikes. The whole place might tumble down! Get on it, engineering.

In any case. The other floors of the shop have needlework supplies and yarn, and the very top floor has this gorgeous roof. Between this and York Minster, I was sufficiently humbled by medieval engineering. Built to last, indeed.

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My mom is a crafty-type as well, with several overflowing boxes of fun old buttons at home. I grew up rummaging through them happily, and probably developed my button-love as a result. I don't recall ever specifically going button shopping with my mother before this, but given the circumstances it could have been disastrous. As it was, she walked away with a grab-bag of miscellaneous buttons to add to that collection. I goggled over them all and settled for two blue buttons. Perhaps not that exciting by themselves.... but check out what I made with them.

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I have my button studs at last! I decided that I didn't want the shiny earring post base showing through the button holes, so I cut a bit off the base and positioned it slightly off-centre like so:

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Tada!

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The perfect souvenir from my day in York. I don't think I'm entirely finished with button earrings, though. Now I want them in every colour. Naturally.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Memories and Adventures in York


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On Monday, we went to York for the day. I first went to York when I was about 12 on my first visit to the UK, and hadn't been back since. G had never been. I have lots of half-remembered memories about that trip, and it was interesting to see what came back to me. In York we met my mom, who is currently on tour in the UK, and she was able to fill in some of the memory gaps and details from that first trip as well.

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Maybe it's the North American in me, but I love cities with medieval streets. There's nothing quite like them back home, where pretty much the oldest permanent structures date from the 1700s. It may be cheaper and more efficient to have straight roads and concrete, but it certainly isn't as charming.

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We paid a visit to York Minster and climbed all the way up the tower, as has become our habit when traveling. On that first trip to the UK, I remember going to the top of several cathedrals, but not in York. So there's a new memory added. I hope I never get tired of climbing to the top of things and looking down at the tiny world below.

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I remember walking on the city walls on my first visit - this time, as we walked on the walls, I imagined what it would be like to have such a monument in my backyard.

Like so many old European cities, York is a fabulous place to explore on foot, and that is my favourite kind of exploring. The old part of the city is compact enough that it is easy to get around, and it's not overwhelming for just a day trip. Of course, there's more to any place than what the tourists tend to focus on, and I certainly wouldn't mind spending more time there.

A crafter's visit to York would not be complete without a stop at Duttons for Buttons, but that adventure is for another post!