Crocheting a Lampshade

Well, not from scratch, that sounded a bit misleading. I’m not saying it can’t be done, mind you  – considering that people crochet complete coral reefs and underwater worlds, I guess anything is possible.

But no, this is just a little up-cycling project. It was some time last year when I found this beauty (in the eye of the beholder, I know) down by the trash cans in the back yard, obviously discarded by someone who didn’t love it anymore:

IMG_4412.jpgI brought it home, put in a light-bulb, and it even worked! So there I was, getting all nostalgic, thinking what an adorably wonky little old lady lamp, awesome, where should we put it … and then my husband came home and hated on it, being all oh look what the cat dragged in, where even did you find this piece of crap, or something unflattering like that, and threatened right away to toss it back where it came from. Unless, he said, and this is why you gotta love my husband, unless you crochet it a different lampshade, maybe.

We kind of left it at that for a while. A lot happens over the course of a year. Good things, bad things, people get married, you travel, friends move away, lots of work, two kids in school, you know how it is. I’m not even sure when, but at some point the lamp ended up in the storage room, a place of unbelievable chaos, disorganization and confusion. When my husband heroically set about restoring order in there a few weeks ago, he unearthed the lamp and threatened to get rid of it if I didn’t start with that project right away.

At first, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I wanted to crochet something, but I’m not very experienced when it comes to crocheting in the round, not larger projects anyway. When browsing, I got lucky once again on fabulous British crochet master Lucy’s website, attic24.  I read through her tutorial, which seemed straightforward enough, got out all my leftover yarn and jumped right in:


Granny clusters are a very forgiving pattern, and since this lampshade cover will be a snug fit, that is a good thing. I probably could have chosen less vibrant coloring, but it has been so dark and gloomy here in our neck of the woods lately that I relished the bright colors. This is as far as I’ve gotten:

IMG_4414.JPGA few more rounds, and then a red and orange border, I think, and maybe some pompoms like the ones I made for my beloved friend A.’s blanket 2 years ago:


I’ll be able to show the finished lamp in the next couple days – can’t wait for it to be done. I may have to hit the flea market on Sunday, to find another lamp and do another!

Signing off today with some sweets: My tenth-grader teenage squad gathered in our kitchen yesterday to make jams for the upcoming Winter Fayre at the Waldorf school – all vegan, because of the commendably increasing vegans ratio among the young. Did you know that both regular and really good vegan lemon curd are astonishingly easy to make? For the vegan variety, you obviously use neither eggs nor butter but margarine, coconut milk and cornstarch instead. Check it out: I’ll bet you won’t even be able to tell the difference from looking at it, and although the vegan spread obviously doesn’t have a buttery flavor, it’s yummy, tart and sweet all the same, just as you like your lemon curd.

Wish me luck! The next two days are going to be really busy, and I hope we’ll sell tons of waffles with homemade jam…



The Reuben Pizza, a Happy Coincidence


In the kitchen (as in life in general), happy accidents can bring about the best results. So back when I still ate bacon (regular pork bacon, ham, streaky rashers, call them what you like), I would sometimes make sauerkraut quiche. I’m usually not fond of sauerkraut, to put it mildly. I know it contains a ton of vitamins and saved many a sailor from scurvy, but I just don’t love it, with one notable exception I first ate in New York City a few light years ago: The Reuben Sandwich. A Reuben is usually served on rye and contains Pastrami, Sauerkraut and melted cheese, which may sound like an odd combination at first, but I find it, for some reason, absolutely irresistible.

But back to that quiche. This was before we had kids, and as both children will touch neither quiche nor sauerkraut with a ten foot pole, I’ve basically stopped making it, because duh. And then for some reason I was reminded of it when grocery shopping last Saturday, and on an impulse I bought some sauerkraut, grabbed some smoked turkey breast (my go-to bacon substitute) and a carton of eggs. I was going to make that quiche for my husband.

As I looked up the short crust for quiches, it came back to me that I used to not make a short crust but rather a robust yeast dough for this particular recipe, and then I thought of the veggie quiche with the rye crust I made in the summer, and then I was reminded of the Tarte Flambée my fabulous friend M. made for us 2 weeks ago, remembered that even my picky daughter hat eaten it because she got her own slices topped like a pizza Margherita – and it sort of all came together in my creative cook-y brain. I was going to try and make a sauerkraut pizza, on a rye dough, and make my daughter her own,  Margherita style.

That’s how it went, and I made a yeast dough of: approx. 300 g rye flour, 200 g wheat flour, water, 1 p yeast, 1 1/2 Tbsp salt, 2 Tsp sugar and a generous slosh of olive oil. Then I set about prepping my sauerkraut. I hadn’t bought a lot, maybe 250 g, figuring it was only my husband and me who were going to eat it.

So first, I sliced a shallot and 200 g smoked turkey breast. I put 1 Tbsp dried caraway seeds in cooking oil and roasted them gently for a minute, then added the shallots and turkey breast strips, and finally the sauerkraut, some salt, sugar and black pepper. I let it stew/roast, adding water every once in a while so it didn’t burn. After an hour or so I turned off the heat and waited for my pizza dough to rise.

In the meantime, I added 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 200 g cream cheese and just a dash of whipping cream to the sauerkraut, as well as a bit of salt and pepper, and grated a large handful of Swiss cheese.

Then I rolled out the dough really really thinly, maybe 2,5 mm. I laid it on a baking sheet and spread the sauerkraut mix on top in a thin layer, topped it off with the grated Swiss and put it in the oven, baking it for about 15 minutes.

I got the pizzas out when the crust was light brown and the cheese melted – and the rest was history. My boy took one bite of my sauerkraut slice and immediately abandoned his salami and marinara sauce pizza in favor of the more exotic variety … a very happy accidental recipe indeed. How about you? Any awesome coincidences in your kitchen lately…? Let’s hear about them.

Signing off today with a few happy pics from today’s birthday bash my daughter threw her friends – check out our latest piñata, yo.

After a Hiatus

It feels like forever since I wrote a post, probably because it has indeed been a while. It’s not even the fact I was busy, although things certainly were a bit crazy the last couple weeks. But the truth is, I didn’t really have anything to say. Not sure I do today, so this may turn out a pointless ramble – guess we’ll just have to see.

For those who actually care: what has been going on with us? I finished a book translation. Reason to be happy, definitely, as well as exhausted – my co-translator and I unwittingly made our lives more difficult than necessary by agreeing to submit the book chapter by chapter – not the greatest idea our editor had there, as it ended up being more work for all involved, writers, editor and graphic designer. We’ll know better next time. Either way, it’s a wonderful book, it’s going to be published before Christmas, and it was a joy (as well as a pain) to work on. Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook, whatever the publishers decide to call it in German – it’s a treasure, and I highly recommend it to anyone spirited enough to brave the knitting charts. Look, even I managed a swatch ;-).

My husband is back to freelancing, after almost two years with the same company. He’s in the process of getting back in touch to let people know he’s available once again, doing the networking routine, having coffees and lunches and reaching out to his contacts. Not his favorite, and I don’t blame him. As everybody knows, these things rarely happen overnight, and there’s a strong element of being in the right place at the right time involved to boot. So he’s in what you might call a perpetual state of aggravation. Again, not blaming him, but we all feel it.

The kids have enjoyed 2 weeks off from school. Lots of sleeping in, very little activity and as much fresh air as they were willing to stomach. The weather has been all seasonal (meaning shitty), and we’ve been holing up at the cottage and feeding the wood-burner. Watching movies, baking, making lasagna and chicken soup, carving a fabulous Jack O’Lantern. Oh, and our spoiled city person of a kitty turned out to be a creature of instinct after all, intrepidly catching two (!) mice in a row. Maybe I’m projecting, but to me she definitely looked smug ;-). Thank God there seem to be no more, for now, and no, I did not take pictures.

In between several frantic absolutely-final proofing cycles, I’ve been knitting socks. Tedious, in a way, but soothing in its familiarity also. I’ve kind of lost my mojo for the Dotty Blanket for now. Maybe it’s a summer thing? I’ve noticed I have a tendency to kind of forget about colors once the summer’s gone. Once it’s cold enough outside for me to require wearing a coat, all I’ll wear is black, grey and sometimes deep red. Maybe I’m hibernating.

Apart from the book, I put in quite a few hours of work at my daughter’s elementary school. We seem to have led a sheltered life: there was hardly ever anything to do as a parents‘ rep the first three years. The kids had a (dedicated and very professional) sweetheart of a teacher, and all was running perfectly smoothly. Now, there are a bunch of – how should I put this – different? new teachers, and the kids‘ first experience with being graded was not pretty. Bravo, educational system, well done. My heart breaks for those kids who don’t have parents with enough time on their hands to pick up the school’s slack at home, which is in effect was they expect us to do. Talked to the German teacher to whom it hadn’t even occurred before that there was such a thing as motivating the kids, or trying positive reinforcement instead of bad grades and putting pressure on them. He’s from Bavaria, ’nuff said. (For non-German readers, this means an ultra conservative, very strict, modern-pedagogics-be-damned school system with such a chip on its shoulder for churning out supposedly superior student material. The rest of Germany considers this to be a huge crock.)

Other than that, most of my friends seem to be going through rough patches. Depression here, breakups and relationship trouble there, pubescent teenagers all over the place … sigh. We’re fortunate in those respects: we’re healthy, reasonably happy most of the time, and our own teenager is treating us with kid gloves, considering. He still has a penchant for putting himself in dangerous situations (roofing!!!), but he’s his friendly old self most of the time, he’s not taking any drugs (I think), he does the work for school (some of it at least), and I actually like his friends. Phew, for now!

So, only a few weeks left to this year. Regarding politics, as we approach the end of 2017, we’re no better off than end of last year, are we? Chancellor Merkel seems to be one of the few rulers of this world left who’s not a lunatic, although after elections it’s evident what a large number of her former voters have chosen to root for the idiots on the right fringe, rather than support her patent voice of reason, humanist approach. I suppose that leaves a lot of room for improvement in 2018…

I’m not going to write up a recipe today, but I will show you a picture of the Linzer Torte I made for my friend Ch’s birthday last week.


The angels just happened to be one of the two cookie cutter choices I had here at the cottage; the other was an Easter bunny. And since it was the 24th of October, and not exactly an Indian summer kind of day, I just thought it was more seasonal. It has no hidden significance whatsoever, neither regarding Ch’s character, much as I love him, nor my perception of self, much as it may be wonky.

These are the stripies I finished today, for the young lady who made me this wonderful T-shirt for my birthday. She’s quite the graffiti artist, wouldn’t you say?

You guys take care of yourselves. Let me know how you’re doing, and what your crafts projects are. My next will probably – can you guess…? A cable poncho :-)).