21 March 2011

Blankety Beginnings

Blankety Beginnings

I'm still waiting on some of my yarn, but I've started my Spring Cloud blanket for Bun (first mentioned in early March). The looong chain to start the blanket, plus the foundation rows where you're wondering if you got the stitch count right, are a bit tedious. But once you're done that bit, it's very zoomy ... you can watch movies, chat, and let your mind wander while zipping along crocheting little clusters. I'm making the colour stripes at random and just picking colours as I go. It makes for an extra end-of-row treat to choose the next colour.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

20 March 2011

Sunday Scones


I made scones for breakfast today. Inspired by watching a Julia Child Crêpes Suzette recipe recently, I also made an orange-citrus butter for a special topping.

Orange Citrus Butter

I didn't follow a recipe at all for the butter, so most of this is just an approximation after the fact. I tasted it as I went, which is always the best way to make something yummy. Here's how I made it:

Orange-Citrus Butter
  • 1 blob of softened butter (I probably had about 1/4 c)
  • zest of 2 oranges (I used a microplane, so it's really fine)
  • few tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • about a Tbsp of granulated sugar, plus same or a bit more of icing sugar

Mix all together until it forms a uniform paste. Mine was quite soft, but since it was going on warm scones, I figured it would go all melty anyhow. I'd probably use all icing sugar another time to try to make it a bit less soupy.

Scones on Sunday

You can make the butter while the scones bake, so it's really not that much of an extra effort. It was oh-so-yummy and felt very indulgent.

You can find more of my recipes in the Food section, in the tabs along the top.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

18 March 2011

Spring in Amsterdam

It's definitely spring now, with lots of sunny, warm days, and pretty flowers. Most recently, I've spotted a pink hyacinth, a daffodil, and some snowdrops in bloom. I took a walk in the Vondelpark the other day and took these pictures...

Spring in the Vondelpark

Spring view in the Vondelpark.

Carpet of Crocuses

A glorious carpet of purple crocuses under this tree.

Forsythia in bloom

A bright yellow forsythia in bloom.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

15 March 2011

Weekend baking


I made some fluffy white buns this weekend. Aside from rising time, I'm always surprised how quick this recipe is. I think it's partly that it's a relatively small amount of dough to work with -- just enough for one tray of buns.

Bread Dough

I use the "Milk Bread" recipe from the Joy of Cooking. It's quite rich with butter and egg and milk, but these buns are so completely worth it!


Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

13 March 2011

More Fabric Cubes

Fabric cubes in a stack

As a thank you for a friend who gave us some adorable and useful baby things, I've made 3 more soft cubes. Her little one is just turning 6 months, so in honour of the exciting first solid food, I've made one of the cubes food themed. The other two I just went for colourful and bright. I hope they end up being fun toys!

Fabric cubes in a line

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

06 March 2011

B is for Baby Bun

Making special things for an expected little one is one of the lovely bits of "expecting". It's nice to dream of the little person who will wear the tiny garments and play with the toys created during this time of waiting.

Handmade for Bun

The next project in the queue for Bun is a crochet blanket. This led me to realising that all my baby things start with B! There are Blocks, a Bunny, a Blue Sweater, and a Berry Hat! So perhaps it was only natural, that a Blanket was next.

Misty Spring Cloud Yarn Palette

I plan to make a Granny Stripe blanket in misty spring cloud colours. I ordered the yarn online, so I'm hoping it will arrive some time in the next week and that the colours are similar to what I expected. It's a palette I associate with Monet's water lilies ... you might see some similarities with my Monet's Garden Patchwork Pillow.

Monet's Garden Pillow

Seeing some of the water lily paintings in person at the Musée de L'Orangerie was one of the highlights of Paris for me. There are 8 huge, curved murals, in 2 oval rooms, lit by diffuse natural light. You can literally fill your field of vision with the paintings. Something in my soul sings at that soft blue-green-pink-purple palette and the serene quality of the paintings. I actually teared up, it was so beautiful. Truly the museum felt like a sacred space. I only hope my blanket can capture a bit of that beautiful tranquility.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

05 March 2011

Berry Hat for Bun

Started yesterday and finished today, this cute little hat was definitely an instant gratification sort of knit. I made it with Rowan Cashsoft DK, which is a luxurious (and machine-washable) mix of merino, micro-fibre, and cashmere. It's super soft. As always, for further details, here's the project page on ravelry.

Bun Berry Hat

Ravelry is an absolute treasure trove of free and inexpensive knitting/crochet patterns. Mostly I stick to the free ones so that I can check out the skill level involved since the rating system isn't very trustworthy. If you want to make one yourself, here's the pattern! (The non-ravelry link in case you don't have a ravelry account yet.) It's definitely beginner-friendly... I still had to look up a few things (how to join for knitting in the round, how to add a new colour, how to do i-cord), but there's lots of great how-to videos online. I usually use a mix of videos on youtube, and on KnittingHelp.com.

Purple Berry Hat

One reason that I write tutorials for my blog is that I really appreciate all the projects that others have shared and skills that they have helped me learn. It's my way of saying thank you to this virtual crafting community.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

03 March 2011

A Blue Sweater for Bun

A sweater for Bun

I finished my very first sweater! And I even managed to do so before Bun arrived. It hasn't been washed yet, but other than that, it's complete. The buttons are from my vintage button stash. I think I found these ones at a church bazaar in Montreal. I'm glad they fit because my button stash doesn't have much in the way of sets. Pattern and yarn details are on the ravelry project page. I owe a huge thank you to my friend Barbara for helping me understand some of the trickier bits of the pattern. And of course, the minute something comes off the needles or hooks, I get to start dreaming what to start next!

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

02 March 2011

A visit to Paris: Everyday sights

Paris is filled with spectacular and famous landmarks, but part of its charm is the beauty in the everyday details.

Sidewalk tables in Montmartre

There were sidewalk cafes everywhere, but I thought these tables in Montmartre were particularly attractive.

Stairwell in Montmartre

Montmartre is very hilly and we got a lot of exercise climbing up and down the day we spent in that arrondissement.

Leafy windows in Paris

I thought there was something special about these leafy windows.

chairs in the Jardin du Luxembourg

All the parks have lots of these metal chairs and in the afternoons, they are filled with people. We loved the way they invite you to really use the parks and stay awhile.

Art Nouveau metro entrance

The Art Nouveau metro entrances are very pretty.

Glowing in the last of the sun

Walking along the Seine at sunset, we saw these buildings glowing in the evening sunlight.

Our visit to Paris was a wonderful holiday and I look forward to visiting again.

You can see all the photos from our holiday in my trip to Paris set.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

01 March 2011

Recipe: Spice Cakes with Lemon Icing

When you move overseas, to a country where you don't speak the language, you often rely on the kindness of new friends. I've been baking lots of treats recently as thankyou's to people who have helped us get bulky baby items home (and up steep flights of stairs) and translated various important papers for us. The currency of homemade cupcakes seems to be just as appreciated here in Amsterdam as it was in Montreal. So wherever you are, if you want a sweet treat or to say thank you to a kind friend, these cupcakes are a nice alternative to my Scrumptious Chocolate Cupcakes and just as delicious.

Lemon Spice Cupcake

This spice cake recipe was often made as a birthday cake when I was growing up and was always accompanied by lemon icing. The two are inextricably linked for me. This is a no-fuss one-bowl type of cake.

Spice Cake
Makes two round 9" layer cakes or about 16 cupcakes.

In a large bowl, mix all at once:
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c soft butter
  • 1/2 tsp each: cloves, nutmeg (grate fresh!) and salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 each: tsp allspice, baking soda
  • 1/4 c molasses (fancy-grade)
  • 1/2 c milk

Grating the nutmeg fresh makes a big difference and it only takes half a minute on a microplane. (Seriously, we thought this step was going to be fiddly and annoying, but it grates up so fluffy that you don't need to do much to get your 1/2 tsp!) If you're using electric beaters, beat for just 2 minutes until it comes together. If you overmix, the cake will turn out dry.

Stir in:
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Beat in:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c milk

Beat batter for another 2 minutes or less, until just combined, then pour into your pans. If you're making it as a cake, be sure to grease and flour the cake tins. For cupcakes, you can do the same, use paper liners, or bake in silicone muffin cups.

The original cake baking instructions are to bake at 375°F (190°C) for 25-30 minutes. For these cupcakes, I baked at 180°C (355°F) in a convection oven for 20-25 minutes. Check on them early and test with a toothpick to determine when they're done.

For the icing, I blend about 1/4 cup butter with 1 1/2 - 2 cups icing sugar, the juice of half a lemon and the zest of 2 lemons.

Lemon Spice Cupcake

You can find more of my recipes in the Food section, in the tabs along the top.

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.