Monday, 28 December 2015

Mushrooms, stitching and growing them

This autumn my husband discovered that you can get kits for growing your own mushrooms and he expressed an interest in trying that.

I checked up on it and decided I would give him this for Christmas. Two kits, I bought, one with brown mushrooms and one with oyster mushrooms. As we were travelling to the UK for Christmas, however, I couldn't take them with me.

I needed a placeholder to put under the tree.

This is precisely the sort of occasion on which I tend to get ambitious, so I decided I would make him a card with a mushroom on the front and an explanation inside.

Luckily there are places on the internet where you can get small cross-stitch designs that don't cost anything and are just the right size for a card. I found this one at http://www.my-cross-stitch-patterns.com/

I could then buy the floss I needed and some blank cards and stitch my mushroom in deepest secrecy. Mornings, after he had gone to work, and on Wednesdays, which is not a work day for me.




There isn't much in the way of nice 'finish' on the card, but I did at least manage to finish the mushroom design. Just! It was quite last minute, as it took longer to stitch than I had thought it would. I didn't even get a photo until after we had returned from the UK.

My husband was pleased with his gift, although I was slightly put out that he had worked out I was stitching on something secret. I thought I had been so careful, but I suppose the lack of progress on my other project may have been clued him in. I just honestly didn't think he paid that much attention to that.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Flade Kager by Ilse König and Inge Prader

I bought this recipe book some time ago now. It was heavily marked down, so cost next to nothing. The title, Flade Kager, translates to 'flat cakes', as in cakes that just aren't meant to be very tall. It's translated from German as I believe it's originally an Austrian book.

As the title suggests, the book concentrates on flat cakes, tarts and the like. Many of them are cakes made with some sort of fruit, and with some fruits there are several different recipes to choose from. Many of them are fruits I've never seen in a cake before, such as for example a grapefruit tart. There are a couple with chestnuts as well, which I'm very curious to try if not for the fact that chestnut mousse is rather expensive to buy in this country.

The recipes also generally use very little in the way of leavening agents, simply relying on eggs to give them a bit of body. I expect this is where the concept of 'flat cakes' comes into play. All of the recipes that I've tried so far have used a lot of egg, so it's not a very good book if you're allergic to that. Several, however, use little or no flour, so if you can't have flour there should be plenty of cakes to choose from. In those that do use a little flour, I imagine it could easily be substituted for some kind of glutenfree alternative, although admittedly I haven't actually tried to do this myself.

I've had the book for some time now and I've tried several of the recipes. So far all of the cakes I've tried have turned out really well, but the quality of the book itself seems to be rather a rush job.

I don't know if it's the book itself or if it's due to the translation, but several of the recipes have involved a bit of guesswork. In one, a cake with plums, the ingredients list doesn't list any plums at all, in another a baking time is missing and in a third it's a step in mixing the batter. None of these things have been worse than I could make an educated guess at what to do, but obviously ideally a recipe should have all the necessary steps and list all the required ingredients.

All in all, I've generally very pleased with this book. The somewhat unpredictable nature of the actual recipes require that one reads it extra-carefully before beginning, but honestly that's something I can live with, because all the things I've tried from it have turned out so well. My favourite that I've made so far was a walnut cake which wasn't actually all that flat at all, and which I'm thinking could probably be turned into some sort of rather smashing gateau-like creation with a little imagination.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hidden by Megg Jensen




I had this as an audiobook from Audible.co.uk, narrated by Emily Kleimo. It's the first book in the Dragonlands series.

The premise sounded really interesting. An entire village surrounded by a dense fog. Nobody who enters the fog has ever come back, and no visitor ever comes through the fog from the outside. One morning it simply appeared, and it has remained there for 80 years. Tressa's grandmother was the only person in the village left who was alive when the fog came. When she died from a mysterious illness, it becomes apparent that she must have known far more than she was telling. As the mysterious illness claims more victims, Tressa and her friends Bastian and Connor set out to try and make it through the fog in order to find medicine.

The book has a number of plot holes. Or at least they seem like plot holes. Perhaps they are issues that will be explained in later books. For example, it is mentioned time and time again that entering the fog is akin to suicide, yet suddenly people seem to want to do it all the time. At one point Bastian asks another character, "why did you not follow us through the fog?" He might as well have asked why the other person didn't just jump off a cliff and die, which might lead people to believe that Bastian was none to fond of the other person, but this is not at all the case. For 80 years entering the fog has been certain death, and suddenly everybody is travelling back and forth through it.

There are numerous other things that aren't explained, things that seem to make little sense and things which seem to be of little consequence but which nonetheless was given a lot of attention. Plot devices, for example. The book is full of them and they're not even particularly subtle. Clearly put there to get the main characters into position, and then quickly killed off once they're no longer necessary.

This might all sound like I didn't really like the book at all, which would be an inaccurate assumption. Certainly I didn't completely love it, but I wouldn't mind finding out what happens next. It still sounds like a really interesting premise, especially if we find out more about Tressa's grandmother and what she knew, didn't know, told, didn't tell and general motives along the way. I suspect the heart of the story is actually with her rather than Tressa or Bastian.

I shan't be getting them on audiobook, though. At least not unless it's a different narrator. Kleimo sounded for the most part as though she really just wanted to get through it and get it over with. She spoke so quickly, a couple of times I would have to go back a bit and listen again. You could tell how she would get impatient as she read, because the start of each chapter she was speaking in a softer tone of voice and with less yapping speed than at the end of the chapter. The difference was very noticeable with every new chapter, especially the later ones. I'll be going with the Kindle for the rest of this series, I think.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

A walk in the wood

I had another walk with the camera the other week in my attempt to get to know it. Unfortunately it was raining a bit and a sort of a gloomy day, so what I learned this time had to do with flash and how different things look after it has gone off unexpectedly as opposed to when there is no flash. Basically I was not too happy with most of the photos I took after I came home and looked through them. Husband showed me how to turn the flash off, so hopefully that won't be such a problem again.


This time, instead of the garden, I went to a nearby little wood to see if I could find some interesting things there. Being in among the trees probably didn't really help with the gloominess much, but it did keep a lot of the rain off.


The top of this stump made me sort of imagine a tiny little miniature landscape with tiny little miniature inhabitants.




Here's a cat I met while out. Unfortunately he was not particularly interested in saying hello. Or to have his photo taken either, really.




I don't know what these are, but they look peculiar.


One of the reasons I went out that day was also to see if I could find some things for a little autumnal decoration. I'd already found the conkers and the nuts in our own garden, and thought I might be able to to find some interesting coloured leaves and such. I was not in luck. Everything was we and uninviting due to the rain and I think I left it a bit late for the strongly coloured leaves. I ended up with some forsythia leaves and rosehips from our own garden instead. I have to say it didn't really turn out how I had imagined, but at least it was an attempt.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Skammerens Datter by Lene Kaaberbøl

I know this book has been translated into English. I believe the titel is The Shamer's Daughter or something similar to that. According to people over on GoodReads, though, apparently there are a couple of gendered slurs used in the translation, which people thought a little unnecessary. I believe this must be down to the translator, because the Danish version, I feel, doesn't really have this problem. Not that I noticed anyway, but I am admittedly not generally very good at noticing these things.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Djævlens Lærling by Kenneth Bøgh Andersen


The title translates to The Devil's Apprentice, and while I don't believe it has been translated into English, I understand it's been translated to a couple of other languages. I saw some other language editions on GoodReads.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumnal photography

Many years ago now, Husband bought himself a really nice camera. I was given his old compact digital camera, which I have to say I haven't used much. I've never really managed to become friends with it, and the phone was just ever so much more handy.

Saturday, 24 October 2015