Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kitchen craft: mead and mulled wine

On December 23 me and my husband finally got around to bottling this year's mead and glögg. Or as perhaps I should say, mulled wine. Finally! We carefully cleaned lots and lots of bottles, thinking that NO WAY we would need all of them. Hah!

The mulled wine (which I will continue to call glögg, as it is called in Swedish, since I really don't care for the english term. After all, there is no actual wine in our glögg!) was made after the same recipe as always, which you can find right hereThe result: marvellous glögg, strong and flavourful. Not sweet as the store bought glögg people are used to, but something entirely different and much much better. Here served with almonds and raisins, as is traditional.
Moving on to the mead! This time we had three batches of mead to bottle, one large batch with the "regular" honey-and-water mead and two experimental batches. The regular mead, light yellow and gorgeous in every way, you can see in the pic below. The taste is by far superior to our earlier batches, and as always it is devastatingly high on alcohol.
The two experimental batches were the real surprise of the day. The one you can see below, red and gorgeous, is heavily flavoured with wild raspberries that I picked this summer. The second batch, which unfortunately I forgot to photograph, is flavoured with blueberries and a pinch of vanilla. 
The two experimental batches turned out very different. The blueberry mead is just awsome, with a mild blueberry taste and a pinkish colour. The raspberry mead is something else entirely. It's much more acidic, and when mixed with a bit of extra honey (which in this case is preferable) it tastes almost like a candy liqueur. 

I'd like to end this blog post with some other pics from our home this winter. The snow just keeps coming! Though it's not as cold as some other parts of Sweden (they had -40 degrees C up in the north just the other day...) it stays below zero and thus the snow remains. Yippie! Oh how I wish it will stay like this until spring. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blogsphere frustration!!!

Waargghhh! What's up with all of these (mostly american) blogs that claim to be about crafts and homesteading but that in reality seem to be all about religion?!

Yeah, so I'm a bit irritated. I've been surfing around the blogosphere looking for interesting craftsy homesteading blogs, and there sure are a lot out there. However, time and time again blogs with potential (as I see it) fall flat because the writers feel the need to include God and Christianity in every other sentence. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with religious people in general. In fact I am rather spiritual myself, but since this is a blog about HANDICRAFT I have no desire to rub my personal faith in your face. (For that I could write another blog, where people who are interested in my faith are welcome to read all about it but where they don't need to suffer through recipes and pictures of crafty stuff.) But apparently the (mostly american) blogging community that is devoted to crafts/homesteading issues can't help themselves, they just gotta show in each and every blog post that they are good Christians and just how much they love Jesus. Seriously dudes, everything doesn't have to be about religion. I understand how important your church is to you, but wraaararrrhhh!

So now you might just be thinking "well, nobody is forcing you to read those blogs so stop complaining!" and yea sure, you've got a point. The thing is there is so much great and wonderful stuff out there in those blogs, so many ideas and recipes and designs and plans and and and... I want to read those blogs because yeah, they're packed full of stuff I'd be interested in. I just don't wanna also get hit over the head with a religious stick in 99% of the times, it's horribly distracting. If I wanna read about religion I'll go to a blog about religion. If I go to a blog about arts and crafts I'm in it for the - wait for it... - for the arts and crafts! It's like borrowing a romance novel from the library but being told that you must also read this or that sci-fi novel, otherwise you won't be allowed to read the book you really came for. A tad bit annoying. 

Aaaand breeeaathe...

Do any of you get what I'm talking about or am I just rambling? Any suggestions on good homesteading blogs that are NOT so extremely focused on religion? 

And finally, I'd just like to say to anyone who might feel like this is aimed towards them. I'm sorry if I'm upsetting you, but this whole problem revolves around the fact that I LIKE (most parts of) your blogs and I want to read them! Just preferably without the preachings, please!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homemade yoghurt!

As I grew up I knew that yoghurt somehow came from milk. Still, I had gotten the impression that one couldn't make yoghurt at home, because... well... just because! This notion stayed with me until just a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade yoghurt. At first I thought "wow, this must be for those people who raise cows!" but looking closer I finally understood that no, this was something ordinary people could do in an ordinary kitchen using ordinary milk.

Huh, interesting!

I just had to try. So tonight I am proud to announce that my very first homemade yoghurt is done!

Here's how I did it...

0,5 liters of milk (I used low fat milk since that was what we had at home)
2 tblsp of yoghurt

I heated the milk until it was almost boiling but not quite, and then let it sit for a while as the temperature dropped to about 40 degrees C. Then I added the two tablespoons of yoghurt (also just what I happened to have in the fridge!) and stirred. After that I put a lid on it and placed the whole thing in the oven. The oven had just been heated to 40 degrees C. After just a couple of minutes I turned the oven off completely but left the hatch closed so that the warmth would not escape too quickly.

After 6 hours I opened the oven and checked the result. Oh yes, yoghurt! The bacteria in the small amount of yoghurt I added to the milk had reproduced and completely taken over, 'magically' turning the milk into mild and creamy yoghurt! Actually I found it a little too mild so I put it back in the oven to sit for another hour, then I'll put it in the fridge. It really is that simple!

Have you ever made yoghurt? How did you do it?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beautiful winter days and brick stitch embroidery

 Good evening dear friends! I hope you are all enjoying December as much as I am. Since a few days ago our part of the world has been completely covered in snow, and I absolutely love it. And since this is our first winter in this house it's particularly exciting to see what winter is like here.

So far I can say it's breathtakingly beautiful. Incredibly bright during the day, pitch black during the night (no streetlights!). The picture above is from two days ago, now there is even more snow. I've been shoveling quite a lot and as strange as it sounds, I love that part of it too. Sore muscles, frost in my hair and crunchy snow beneath my boots... *humming*

Last but not least, I'd like to show you some craftiness. Not my own this time, but that of my friend Katriina. She and her family came over for dinner this Sunday, and afterwards I got to see what she's working on right now. Have a look at this embroidery, isn't it gorgeous? Makes me wanna start a new embroidery project, but I really should finish my ongoing projects first.

As for me I've been playing around with the dress form, learning how to use it not just for fitting clothes but for creating new patterns from scratch. Pattern making has always been my weak side, but now it feels like I'm finally learning. The dress I'm making right now is not historical, it's meant to be used in everyday life, but it is still inspired by certain historical elements. You'll see it when it's done, I promise.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making perfume

Winter is coming! This morning the landscape outside my window had turned crispy white, beautiful... Moving on. It's perfume making time!

I am out of perfume. Empty bottle, nothing left. And at the moment I can't really go spend lots of money on new perfume (it's disgustingly expensive, isn't it?!). But though I've moved out from the city and turned into a lantis (the swedish equivalent of a 'hillbilly') I'm trying not to become a complete slob, and thus I still wanted new perfume.
Add to that my constant need to expand my knowledge base and crafting skills, a few very instructive sites on the basics of perfume making, and what do you get? But of course, perfume experiments on the way!

Measuring cups, essential oils (I just bought four little bottles to try... if this experiment is a success I'll buy more, I'm sure.), vodka, glass jars, and a notebook for keeping an exact record over the ingredients.
This is just plain vodka. In the first jar I used 1 dl, in the second only 1/2 dl (it dawned on me how much 1dl of perfume really is, I needn't make much while I'm just experimenting!)
Here I've mixed in the essential oils (the recipe I will keep secret...), stirred the mixture and closed the lid (the plastic is just to make it air tight).
As I said, I made two different versions. As you can see the oil floats at the surface, not mixing with the alcohol. The alcohol will however pick up the scent. Now it just needs to rest in a dark place for a couple of days, then I'll add a little water and a little glycering (which apparently should make the fragrance more durable).

I'll return to you with an update on the result once the ageing is done!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making a dress form (duct tape)

Some time ago I came across something very inspiring. Some blogger (I'm sorry, I don't remember the blog adress or the name of the blogger!) had created a dress form out of duct tape, instead of buying a "real" and expensive one. Now finally I have been able to make my own (with the help of my darling husband, Marcus!) and I am happy to show it to you all, and hope to inspire others to try it too!

First I got wrapped in some thin plastic (the kind often used in the kitchen when wrapping foodstuff...), from the neck to below my butt. Then Marcus went ahead and wrapped me in duct tape, closely following the curves of my body and trying to keep it as smooth as possible. Then he cut the duct tape open in the back and I stepped out. I taped the back opening together again, stuffed it full with scrunched up old newspapers. Then i taped the rest of the openings (arm holes, neck and bottom hole) and put it on a metal stand (previously part of a large cd stand that we didn't want to use any more). And ta-dah! My very own dress form!

The best thing with it is how close it is to the original (me!). Also, the worst thing with is is how close it is to the original! There is nowhere to hide... the flabby tummy, wide thighs and uneven boobs, it's all there and clearly visible. But seriously, it's great and I recommend the technique to all of you!

The last pic here is just for fun. After having finished the dress form I wanted to see how it looked with clothes on, so I pulled some random items from my wardrobe and put them on. Afterwards I couldn't stop myself, I just had to start a new sewing project now that I had a dress form! But that will be saved for a later post, when it's all done.

That's all for now. See ya!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Link - 19th c clothing

My fingers are itching... I want to sew! Now! But wait, no... all my fabrics and stuff are still not unpacked. Darn it.

Aaaanyhow, here is a good tip for all who are interested in 19th c clothing...

Just click it, I promise you wont be attacked by nasty viruses or anything. It's from Nordiska Museet in Stockholm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Update on house and home!

Hey you!
Once again, I'm sorry for not posting too often at the moment. We are now moved into our new home but we're far from done, there's lots of stuff left to fix and enormous amounts of unpacking left to do...

I'm still amazed at how beautiful it is here. I LOVE this piece of land, and I'm so happy to call it home. Here's the view from our living room window... Seems like we get a lot of fog around here! This photo was taken just the other night. It was even more gorgeous in real life!
Here's me, painting the garage. Unfortunately after three days I still had one wall left to do and then the weather put a stop to it. Rain, raing and then snow. And one's not supposed to paint while wet, nor in temperatures below 5 degrees C. So still, there is one wall left unpainted.

Working on the inside of the garage, learning how to use fun modern power tools and NOT cutting any fingers off! :P
 That's all for now. I have a couple of pics I wanted to show you along with some kitchen craft, but as it turns out my phone (in which I have the relevant pics!) has severe mood swings and is currently not speaking to me. So that will have to wait.

Until next time, take care!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Improvised carrot bread

Today we're getting a visitor! My father-in-law is coming to stay with us for a week, to help out now that we're swamped with work on the house and garage. In two weeks it all has to be done!

However, today I just wanted to show you a bit of kitchen craft: bread baking, the Fny way. I bake a lot of bread, but almost never use recipes. Plus I rarely measure anything. This inevitably leads to all batches being different from each other, which I find nice.

Yesterday as I looked in the fridge, I noticed we had some left over carrots. Great, I can use that. From the pantry I got ordinary wheat flour and barley flour, salt and dry yeast. Usually I just use water but since we're having a guest over I decided to go fancy - so I ran out and bought some milk.

I mixed it all together (with the milk heated to approximately 37 degrees C), simply added flour until the dough felt good (mostly wheat, perhaps 3 or 4 dl of barley...), and left it to rest for 50 minutes. Afterwards I cut the dough into 24 pieces and rolled them into round balls, and the left them to rest and rise again for another 30 minutes. After that they went into the oven for half an hour (225 degrees C).

They turned out absolutely DELICIOUS! I can't tell you how pleased I am with the result, but it's probably one of the best I've baked ever! *nomnomnom*

(Written a couple of days ago, but I wanted to wait for the pics, so here it is...)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Granny squares - testing a new pattern

Last night I found this exciting granny square pattern (I'm sorry it's only in Swedish) and I just had to try it. Here is the result!

It turned out to be considerably larger than the other (traditional) squares I've done, so unfortunately they don't fit together. However, I'm thinking of trying to make a smaller version of this one. If I crochet the two inner parts (the lilac and white) it's ALMOST the size I want it to be, so if I can just make a smaller square frame around it then... it could work. Not sure how to do it though, I'm still kinda new at doing crochet... Any suggestions? And when on the subject, do you have any favourite granny square versions? I'd love to see more! Do you know of any that fits together (in size) with the traditional (at least, the one I've heard is the most traditional here! You can see them in the second pic.) granny square?

Creating a stone path...

Laying down stones to form a path to what will eventually be an earth cellar... Like a puzzle, always trying to find the best way to fit the stones together. Marvellous, I love this kind of very creative and hands-on gardening!

As much as possible I want to avoid buying stones for paths and decorative features in the garden. We certainly have enough rocks to work with on our small patch of land, plus I really like things not to be perfect and symmetrical.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crochet ("mormorsrutor")

I've finally learned how to make so called "mormorsrutor" (whatever it's called in english...), I'm so proud!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First time ever - an entire dress sewn by hand! No sewing machine!

Good evening dear friends! It is getting late and I'm getting pretty sleepy, so I'll make this a short entry.

For the last two weeks or so I've sewn more by hand than I've ever done before; for the first time making an entire garment by hand! No sewing machine, not even a little! And here is the result: A short dress in 100% wool, by my own pattern.

As you can see, there is a decorative v-shape both in the front and in the back of the collar. The three buttons on the chest were also made by me, using the same technique that I use while doing medieval cloth buttons.

So there you have it, my first dress sewn all by hand! And I enjoyed it, yay!

(The grey blouse beneath the dress is the one I made a couple of months ago, shown here...)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What we've been up to this summer...

I've mentioned before that we are about to move out of the city and finally get our own house. The house itself isn't actually there yet, though... but it's coming quite quickly!

So instead of playing around at home with sewing, candlemaking or whatever I usually do, this summer we've been crafting on a different scale. We're not actually building the house ourselves, but we have been busy working on other stuff.

And now, time for some pictures! Finally, yay!