woensdag 30 mei 2012

Finished! My Critron

Finally, finally I finished my Critron!
I am so happy with it. It was boring as hell (seriously) but I am very very pleased with this shawl. It is beautiful because of its simplicity!

The pattern can be found in the Ravelry Library. It is free, so anyone can make it. Be aware although. The shawl consists of ruffling parts and straight parts. And it is single crochet all the way. It is a rather boring pattern. The knitting pattern is too, but since crocheting an item goes way faster, I wanted to crochet it. I really had to stick to it though and keep working on it! I started it in september 2011. Finished it two weeks ago....
But, it is gorgeous!

Tutorial: How To Block Finished Objects

After you finish a crocheted or knitted item, it is not really done. You sometimes need to block items to get a certain gauge, shape or laciness. This “blocking” as we call it, is the most important step in finishing your woolly item before it is ready to wear.

Blocking gives shape, makes irregular stitching disappear and gives you the opportunity to manipulate yarn in the way you want.

For example, if you have a sweater that consists of loose pieces, ie arms, you want both armholes to be the same length and width. Nobody is a machine, so chances are that both your armholes are different in size. You need to block it!

Another example, and this showcases the purpose of blocking at its best in my opinion, is knitting or crocheting a lace item. When you have finished (especially with knitting) the items seems a droopy mess. Yarn overs are not the same size or almost non existent. Crocheted shells are lumpy and not “shell-like”. You need to block it!

Everything will look better after blocking, trust me. Some items do not really need to be blocked such as socks (there are people who will say otherwise) or afghans/blankets. Some yarns cannot really be blocked. I will address this at the end of this tutorial.

Let’s suggest you have a wool item that needs to be blocked. I am going to describe the process also called “wet-blocking”. Other forms are “steamblocking” or “killing”. Those are used with other types of yarn, but wool items behave at their best with wet-blocking.

You will need:
Finished object (FO)


A very gentle soap or shampoo (I use Urtekram)


Flat surface that will be unused for a night or a night and a day

Pins, lots of them

Not really necessary, but useful: blocking kit (I got mine at Wolhemel, but the shop does not exist anymore..)


Step 1: Take your FO (with ends woven in) and collect the bucket and the shampoo. Fill the bucket
with handwarm water (I use 30 degrees Celsius, just barely warm) and while the water is running into
the bucket do a bit of shampoo in the water. Just a bit, you need just a bit of soap bubbles.

Step 2: Put your FO under water and let all the air bubbles get out of the wool. Let it soak for
maybe half an hour, no longer (especially if it’s not machine washable wool!). The wool needs to be
completely saturated with water.

Step 3: Rinse your FO, no wringing, just let the water run, let the item make circles in the bucket, turn
it a bit (careful!) until the water is clear. Let most of the water run out of the bucket.

Step 4: Take your towel and spread it out. Cup the item in your hand, and let most of the water leak
out of it in the bucket. No wringing! Put the FO in the towel, fold it and press on the
towel to get most of the water out of the FO.

Step 5: Take your item out of the towel and spread it out on a flat surface. Wool will grow with
blocking so take this information in account when choosing the size of surface you need to block. Now take your pins, relax your back and concentrate.

Step 6: Depending on the shape of the item start pinning while gently stretching the item to all
directions. With a triangular shawl I start at the bottom point and work my way up. With something
circular you need to put in pins around the item, carefully keeping the same distance to the center.
Use chainspaces to pin it down. Try not to stretch stitches too much.

Step 7: Let it dry. A lace shawl in sockweight yarn will dry in approximately one night, maybe a day.
Be careful not to block in the sunshine! Coloured wool will fade when dried in direct sunlight. Note: as you can see, this tutorial is a sneak peek at my prayer shawl!

Step 8: Unpin and wear! Or if it were parts of a garment, sew them together.

You can block acrylics and cotton as well but they need to be treated differently. Wool is easy to block and will retain mostly its blocked size/shape even it is washed afterwards. You probably do not need to re-block. Cotton can be wetblocked but it needs to be blocked hard (stretched out) and will need reblocking every time you wash it. Acrylics can be blocked both wet blocked and steamblocked. After wet blocking it will probably spring back a bit. 

Steamblocking (gently hovering above an item with an iron and patting it into shape) is a good option but you will need to do it again after washing. For the record, wool can also be steamblocked, the most important thing to keep in mind is to pin the dry item into shape and then steamblock it. 
If you want your acrylic FO to be blocked permanently, you can “kill” it by pinning it into shape (dry) running the iron directly over the yarn so that it will “melt” into position. I have never “killed” anything so I have no experience with the process. I just wash it and lay it flat to dry.

zondag 27 mei 2012

Sunny Sunday

The past few days were very very hot. Too hot to undertake anything special really. On Saturday morning I went to the market with Little Lady and we enjoyed a little breeze, but sitting in the garden in the blistering sun was no fun at all. Both kids are moody and so over this weather. Just a couple of degrees cooler would be perfect!

Normally, Sundays are about sleeping in a bit, doing household chores and go out with the kids, but since tomorrow is a national holiday we did not do every household chore and Big Man decided to go to the movies with his best friend.

I stayed home with the kids and just felt blah about the weather. We did some surviving today. Go out when it was doable, and stayed in at the warmest time of the day.

I am very pleased that I got something done today!

I sorted out and decluttered my stash both upstairs and downstairs. It was a mess! I had my basket full of papers, bags, balls I wasn't working with and there was a bag full of stuff on top of my basket.

Upstairs I sorted everything again. Finally it looks nice. Still, I need some destashing!

At two o' clock it was nice to sit in the garden so I took out the waterplay for the kids and they could play in the shade.

Some plants are flowering, despite the heat. I really like this one, although I do not know what it is...

Our strawberry plants are back again and growing like weed! They have lots of flowers, so hopefully we will have some strawberries soon!

 Í hung the diaper laundry out in the garden. For the first time. Really, I should be ashamed of myself! We had lots of sunshine already since spring, but I never got the chance to hang them outside...

A nice, cool, frozen popsicle.

And I finally got some time to weave in the ends of my mother-in-law's shawl. It is now lying on the spare bed, blocking. I am really really pleased with it. Pattern is almost done, just some tweeking with the lay-out and put some pictures in it. So exciting!

Lactosevrij koken: Zomerse salade

Op dit soort dagen, dat het echt te warm is om te koken, verzin ik iets makkelijks. Soms bestellen we iets als we echt geen puf hebben, of we gooien wat bij elkaar.

Dit is een simpele salade, heerlijk op zo'n dag dat de warmte je eetlust beneemt, of als je juist zin hebt in iets als bijgerecht bij een barbecue, of een lekker glaasje koude rosé of witte wijn.

Dit recept is natuurlijk lactosevrij!

Zomerse Simpele Salade

Benodigdheden voor 3 a 4 personen
1 zakje ijsbergsla
blikje mais
rode paprika (1 of 2)
gerookte kip
balsamicodressing (Bertolli)
2 eieren

Verwarm de oven voor op de aangegeven temperatuur voor het stokbrood. Prik de eieren in met een eierprikker en kook ze in 8 minuten hard. Snijd de tomaatjes, komkommer, olijven, paprika en gerookte kip in kleine stukjes. Doe de gesneden groente en de kip in een grote bak en voeg daar de uitgelekte mais en de sla aan toe. Doe er een flinke scheut balsamico dressing over heen en 2-3 theelepels pesto. Hussel alles lekker door elkaar zodat alles goed verdeeld is. Laat de eieren schrikken, snijd ze in plakjes en serveer samen met het stokbrood op een bord.

Eet smakelijk!

woensdag 23 mei 2012

Lactosevrij koken: Hartige Broccoli Taart

Even weer een receptje. Deze keer ook met Alpro Soja Cuisine, maar dan een warme variant.
Deze hartige taart is altijd een succesnummer hier in huis. Ik heb het recept van mijn ouderlijk huis meegekregen en mijn eigen draai aangegeven. Hij gaat eigenlijk altijd helemaal op! Hartige taart maken is op zich niet moeilijk, zeker niet als je gewoon bladerdeeg uit een pakje gebruikt. De kunst is alleen dat je de taart lekvrij maakt! Oefening baart kunst zou ik zo zeggen. Dit recept is er natuurlijk 1 van velen, maar bij iedere hartige taart waar slagroom of kookroom voor gebruikt wordt kun je deze vervangen voor Soja Cuisine.

Eet smakelijk!

Hartige Broccoli Taart

4 personen (maar met 3 gaat hij ook op!)

8 plakjes gewone bladerdeeg (Koopmans of Albert Heijn)
1 pakje Alpro Soja Cuisine
400 gr broccoli
1 pakje hamreepjes
3 eieren
1 zakje geraspte kaas
klein blikje mais

bakvorm 28cm doorsnede

Snijd de broccoli in roosjes en kook deze in 10 minuten halfgaar. Als de broccoli klaar is giet je deze af.
Verwarm ondertussen de oven voor op 225 graden en laat de plakjes bladerdeeg ontdooien.

 Zodra de bladerdeeg ontdooit is verdeel je de blaadjes over de bodem en de zijkant van de bakvorm en druk je de randjes over elkaar goed aan. Prik her en der met een vork voorzichtig gaatjes. Niet te diep! De gaatjes zorgen ervoor dat het bladerdeeg lekker luchtig wordt in de oven.

 Kluts de eieren in een maatbeker zodat eiwit en eigeel goed gemengd is. Roer de Soja Cuisine, kruiden/knoflook/pesto naar smaak erdoor heen en als laatste een eetlepel of twee geraspte kaas. Doe de broccoli, de hamreepjes en de mais in de met bladerdeeg bedekte bakvorm en verdeel deze netjes over de bodem. Giet dan het ei-Soja Cuisine mengsel eroverheen en zorg dat het netjes verdeeld is. Als laatste verdeel je de overgebleven geraspte kaas over de taart.

Zet de taart in het midden van de oven en bak deze in ongeveer 35 minuten af. De randen zijn dan goudbruin en het ei is netjes gestold.


donderdag 17 mei 2012

The "Weekly" Biology Session: Backyard Birds

Every morning (if I'm at home) and every evening we hear: "Pa-ti, pa-ti, pa-ti". This is the signal that mr. Great tit is sitting on the fence doing his calls to his wife.
The Great Tits in the backyard are busy with making themselves comfortable in our birdhouse. So much fun! They are flying on and off, chattering, twittering and calling. They are also bringing feathers and bushy things into the bird house.

The tits in the frontyard are not showing themselves anymore. Maybe they've already flew out. Or maybe the chicks died. I don't know. These backyard tits are easier to see and hear so hopefully we will enjoy their stay in the birdhouse and see the little chicks fly out. I am really excited about this bird thing!

Yesterday, I went to the pond when Little Lady was taking a nap. Because, and I was very surprised to see this, there were coot chicks in the pond! To tell the whole story, I went to the pond last week with Little Man and there was nothing to see in the nests. Absolutely nothing. There were some eggshells near one nest, but we looked a long time, but no chicks to see. So you can imagine my surprise!

Five coot chicks in total. Mom and Dad were very busy with diving for for food. Hopefully there is enough food and no predators around to see them grow up!

On my way back I also saw these cute little birds. I have to look them up and find out what kind of birds they are!

zondag 13 mei 2012

Mother's Day

It has been a beautiful summery day today, and the weather was just perfect for Mother's Day. I had been waiting for two weeks to open Little Man's gift from school (it came home with him the last day before May holidays) and luckily only a few days to open the gift the babysitter made with both Little Man and Little Lady.

The day started out like a normal Sunday. Cozy on the couch, coffee for me, apple slices and cuddling with the blankets for the kids while enjoying the Sunday programs on tv.

I also got some hooky time and I am happy to tell you I am almost done with the prayer shawl for my mother-in-law. Hopefully, I will get some time next week to do the last row, write up the pattern, block the shawl and make some pretty pictures. This pattern will be free for all to use!

This is the present I got from both kids. Isn't it cute? It is a bracelet with hand and feet from both. It is made from the stuff you put in the oven and then it shrinks. I think it is utterly beautiful! On each hand or foot is written who did the coloring.

After two weeks I was finally opening up the envelope that Little Man took home on the last day before May holidays. And in it was a very very handsome picture taken by his teacher. It is so Little Man! It is standing with the rest of our pictures, and I am very proud of him.

Mother's Day is of course also a bit for the grandmothers. I got Little Man to trace his hand and I painted Little Lady's hand (under protest) red and made a nice print of it. Gave them some pencils and this is the piece of art they made! Grandma (my mother) was very pleased with it.

Hopefully everyone of you has had a nice Mother's Day!

donderdag 10 mei 2012

Lactosevrij koken: Romige Pastasalade

Dit onderwerp, en dus ook deze posts gaan lekker in het Nederlands. Is wat makkelijker aangezien ik weet dat er mensen in mijn omgeving zijn die met hetzelfde "probleem" zitten als ik.

Ik ben lactose-intolerant.

Hier ben ik ongeveer 8 a 9 jaar geleden achtergekomen. Opeens kreeg ik last van opgeblazen buiken en enorme constipatie. Totaal niet leuk. Eerst dacht ik dat het een vezeltekort was, maar niks hielp. Bij de huisarts werd ik doorverwezen naar een diëtist, maar daar zouden we eerst een eliminatie dieet proberen. Een eliminatiedieet betekent dat je gedurende langere tijd een bepaalde voedingsstof/bepaald soort eten vermijdt, waardoor je kunt kijken of meer of minder last hebt van klachten. Zo kun je dus uitsluiten of je voor iets allergisch bent.
Het toeval was dat ik in die tijd 's ochtends een bakje yoghurt met cruesli altijd nam. Kort na mijn intake gesprek bij de diëtist nam ik een tongpiercing. Daarna kon ik een paar dagen geen cruesli eten omdat mijn tong a) te pijnlijk was en b) te dik. Lo and behold! Mijn klachten werden minder!
Het gesprek erna (eerste behandelgesprek) bracht ik dit ter sprake dus als eerste voedingsmiddel om te testen was het aan  mij om alle melkproducten (behalve harde kaas) te vermijden. En toen ging het goed. Super zelfs!

De dietist verklaarde mij lactose-intolerant. Dit betekent dat als ik via melkproducten lactose binnenkrijg, de bacterien van mijn darmflora deze suiker niet goed kunnen omzetten. (Ahem, mijn lieve eega verbeterde me: het lactose wordt in mijn maag niet door lactase gesplitst in monosacchariden, dit zorgt ervoor dat mijn darmwand het niet kan opnemen en gaan de bacterien het in mijn darmen gebruiken voor hun eigen doeleinden). Dit heeft als gevolg dat de boel gaat gisten, gas veroorzaakt en verstoppingen.

En toen was het belangrijk om te kijken waar nou allemaal lactose in zat. En dat bleek in een hoop te zitten. Het is een zoetmaker, en een sterkere zoetmaker dan glucose. Aangezien wij in de Westerse Wereld verzot zijn op zoet, wordt het echt overal ingestopt. Bijvoorbeeld ham. Slavinken. Knorr Lasagnette. En zo kan ik er nog veel meer opnoemen.

In het begin was het vooral zoeken naar etenswaren en mixjes waar geen lactose inzat. Later bleek ook dat zoiets als weipoeder of bepaalde melkzuren dat ik daar ook in meer of mindere mate op reageerde. Het was echt uitzoeken. Nu kunnen zowel de Man als ik heel goed verpakkingen scannen.

Het koken was een uitdaging, maar nu draaien we er onze hand niet meer voor om. Een flink aantal recepten moesten worden aangepast, maar tegenwoordig koken we vaak zo basic dat we eigenlijk weinig premixjes voor bepaalde gerechten gebruiken. We kunnen het zelf! Ik zal de komende tijd laten zien hoe je melkvrij of melkgereduceerd kunt koken. Dit betekent lekkere recepten voor lactose-intoleranten, maar ook voor mensen die minder zoet willen of juist aan de lijn doen. Veel vervangingen zijn namelijk minder vet. Goed voor de lijn dus (al hoef ik daar niet op te letten)!

Dit is een van de eerste recepten die aangepast werd omdat er slagroom in werd gebruikt. Voor bijna alle recepten waarin slagroom als kookroom gebruikt wordt kun je Alpro Soja Cuisine gebruiken. Dit is gemaakt van sojabonen. Voor koude recepten voor ijs is er helaas nog geen ander alternatief dat volledig lactosevrij is. Er is wel de Campina Topping, hierin is de hoeveelheid lactose verminderd. Een goed alternatief voor bij de appeltaart!

Onderstaand recept is mogelijk met veel variaties. Je kunt het zo gek niet bedenken of je kunt het erbij doen. Vegetarisch is natuurlijk ook mogelijk!

Romige pastasalade

voor 4 personen

250-300 g pasta (tricolore is onze favoriet)
1 cervelaatworst/chorizoworst/hamreepjes/gekruide quorn
200g of 1 krop ijsbergsla (veldsla/rucola)
1 pakje Soya Cuisine
1 komkommer
cherry tomaatjes
blikje mais
gehakte knoflook
gedroogde kruiden zoals tijm, rozemarijn

Kook de pasta al dente volgens de beschrijving. Giet af in een vergiet en spoel de pasta met koud water af zodat het lekker koud wordt. Was de sla, snijd in kleine stukjes en doe in een kom. Snijd de komkommer in de lengte doormidden en dan in plakjes, voeg bij de sla. Snijd de cervelaat of chorizo ook in de lengte door, snijd in plakjes en voeg ook toe. Was de cherry tomaatjes, halveer ze, voeg bij de rest. Voeg ook de olijven door de helft doorgesneden toe. Giet de mais af, en doe er ook bij (volgen jullie me nog? :) ).
Doe de pasta ook in de kom. Zorg dat je een grote kom hebt!
In een apart kommetje doe je de Soya Cuisine en meng daar naar smaak flink wat scheppen pesto, wat gehakte knoflook en wat gedroogde kruiden in. Goed roeren.
Doe het sausje over de salade en meng goed door. Het mooiste is als de salade even in de koelkast kan staan voordat het geserveerd wordt, want dan trekt de smaak er in.
Serveer met gebakken stokbrood.

Tip: Deze salade is nog lekkerder de volgende dag! Wij vinden het totaal niet erg als er wat overblijft, dat gaat dan mee naar werk voor tijdens de lunch. Heerlijk!

Eet smakelijk!

woensdag 9 mei 2012

The "Weekly" Biology Session: New life

As I have mentioned on Facebook, we have some flying visitors! We have two bird houses, one on the wall of our house in the front yard, and one in the back yard on the wall of our shed (depot?).
Last Sunday, as I was doing private business on the toilet (yes, I know, very informative) I heard peeping and flappering on the wall of the toilet. And when I looked out the window in the kitchen I saw a great tit (koolmees or parus major) sitting on the bird house, and entering it. We have a chicks!
I got these bird houses for my birthday and Big Man and Little Man installed both bird houses last summer, but we realised it was near the end of the breeding season of both the little tit and the great tit. The bird house in the back yard was used during the winter for overnight stays (Big Man found feathers and poops when he was cleaning it over two months ago), so we knew some birds knew of the existence of the bird house.
So when Big Man was putting Little Man and Little Lady into their Sunday bath, I picked up the camera, put on it my telelens, and grabbed a chair to see if I could get some pictures of these lovely little birds. We have lots of birds visiting our garden, but great tits make up the greater part of it.

This is the view I got as I was nearing the front yard! Busy, busy birds. Mom and dad busy with feeding their chicks and on the watch out.

On and off they went.  I sat there probably for 10 minutes and they made three trips in that time.

I do not know why this tit is picking and hammering at the opening of the birdhouse. He or  she did it every time while hanging there.

Clear shot of probably a female great tit.

There is also news on the bird house in the back yard. The last couple of days another couple  of great tits is inspecting the bird house. Flying on and off, going in and out, calling to eachother from the roof of our shed and the fence between us and the neighbour. You can hear them clearly, they are very busy! Exciting! Two nests! As I am typing, both tits are in the bird house in our back yard! Hopefully all the chicks will grow up and will not be catched by either our cat or the neighbourhood cat. Will keep you posted.

zaterdag 5 mei 2012


They have been haunting me like... Forever. Knitting socks... I loathe knitting for its lack of speed (unlike crochet) and what it does to my poor tennis elbow (ouch). But my. After three months of knitting, frogging, battling with knitting needles and cursing, my first adult fingering weight socks are done!

Lessons learned? A lot.
Lesson # 1: Yarn love! I just love Regia sock yarn, both for knitting and crochet (shawls!). But this heathered yarn was giving me some problems with splitting in the beginning. I knitted socks for Little Man over a year ago, with Regia Stretch, and I never encountered splitting with that yarn.
Lesson # 2: Patience! I took a pattern from the book "Socks from the toe up" by Wendy Johnson, and despised myself in the beginning! I could not memorize the pattern. Until four or five repeats.
Lesson # 3: Knitting methods! These socks were made with magic loop, dpns and two circulars. Yes you read it right, I tried three different knitting methods. I ended up with one sock at a time on two circulars. Next pair will be knitted two at a time on two circulars.

Lesson # 4: To rip or not to rip.... I had to frog my heel on my first socks three times... I thought these socks were blackmailing me! Next time I will use a normal gusset heel instead of a slip stitch heel...
And lesson # 5: Gauge. Somehow, my gauge differs tremendously. On the sole my gauge is 9 sts per inch and on the back of the cuff 8 sts per inch. Not dramatically as this is normal sock gauge, but I have to knit my cuffs a bit tighter.

I am so glad that they are done. Next pair will be for the Big Man. Hopefully they will be done before his birthday, but I am positive about them and will use my lessons learned.

And I know now why it is that Little Man could not be parted with his socks. They feel sooooooo soft. I have crocheted socks but I was not impressed by their stretch. They tend to slobber as the day goes on. These socks stay in shape! You also do not feel the stitches, and they are warm yet breathing. Total love. I hope my tennis elbow will forgive me if I just knitted more socks...