Monday, August 31, 2009

Ridiculously Easy Blackcurrant Pie (but oh so delicious)

Blueberry pie, you have a competitor! We got a big pile of blackcurrants from my parents' garden and I decided to make a pie. At around 9 in the evening I had little energy left, so I threw one together like so:

1. Defrosted a storebought sweet pie crust and flattened it into a pie dish.

2. Poured in as many blackcurrants as would fit (something like 2-3 dl or 1 cup).

3. Mixed together 1 dl (a little under 1/2 cup) sugar, 2 tbsp potato starch flour and 1 tsp vanilla sugar, then sprinkled that on top of the berries.

4. Put it into the oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 30 mins.

5. Let it cool a bit, then served with vanilla icecream.

6. Entered a state of joyful bliss.

What a pie! A Pie with a capital P, even after I put only the bare minimum of effort into it. I will hoard all the leftover berries from my parents' garden into the freezer so that I can make this again. And again. And again!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I hate computers

Dear silly developers of various applications like Chrome, Firefox and iTunes.

Yes, I'm a Finn, born and raised in Finland, and have lived here all my life. However, my 1st language isn't Finnish. Plus I like to do my computer stuff in English. My Windows is in English and my browser is set to English.

This means I want to do my internetting (yay, a new word) in English. It means I DO NOT want all your installers and webpages in Finnish. Especially if your installer installs only the same language version as the installer itself (I'm looking at YOU, Google Chrome). Would you kindly check what language I'm using for my internetting, not my location.

That is all.

(As you may have guessed, I'm in the process of switching computers and have been installing apps all weekend. As a result, I feel like strangling something and have to let out steam before the computer flies out the window.)

(Also, Mr Morrgan had the same sorts of trouble after relocating here from New Zealand. It was great fun watching him at the time. Now I understand his frustration only too well.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This summer's annuals - a flowery review

Warning: Humongous post ahead!

As August nears its end, I thought it would be a good idea to write a list of the good vs. the bad regarding the summer flowers in the balcony garden, so I’ll know what to do next year. This post is thus pretty selfish; basically a list of things to remember next year for me. I suppose someone might get something useful from it if they happen to have a similar balcony (windy, day & afternoon sun, somewhat hot at times), but I suspect such people are few and far between. But hey, at least there’s pretty pictures of my pretty flowers!

So, the verdicts.

flower blue purple petunia Petunias
I’ve never been much of a fan of petunias before. They always struck me as a bit boring and the first one I got this summer I only got because Mr Morrgan wanted it. But I now realise I’ve been a fool. Both of the petunias I got have turned out to be the most grateful, easy to care for little plants, flowering all summer with a huge amount of flowers despite occasional lapses in care. These will definitely be back next year!

flower yellow marigold tagetes Marigolds (Tagetes)
Marigolds are another flower I’ve been quick to dismiss in the past, but which I have now come to think of more highly. This is actually due to seeing them in my mother’s garden – they weren’t so successful in the balcony, alas. The two I got suffered a bit from our vacation, when the flowers were without water for a little under a week, and have a had some trouble since. They have bloomed almost the whole time, but the flowers have been a lot fewer than I expected. I got them fairly late, so I think they just didn’t have enough time to root before the vacation and thus didn’t have the best beginning. I think I’ll give them another chance some other year.

flower white dahlia Dahlias
Ah, the dahlia, one of my faves. I had a bit of mixed luck with these – the one I got as a beautiful little plant suffered from the vacation drought and now looks rather sad, whereas the one I bought as a rather sad-looking thing has become huge and gorgeous. Go figure. I love them though, so they’ll be back in the future regardless.

flower blue purple annual phlox drummondii Annual phlox
This one I got on a whim, knowing nothing about it. It turned out to be a good purchase, for it has bloomed non-stop since I got it. The vacation slowed it down a bit, but only a little. Plus it has such a lovely scent! Might not get it again next year, but it will make a comeback in the future for sure.

flower yellow orange cockscomb ahhaha Celosia argentea Cockscomb
I’m not sure what to make of this. I can’t quite tell if it’s meant to look like this or not. Nor can I quite decide whether or not I like the appearance. Hmm. At least it has a funny name, har har.

flower white flowering jasmine tobacco Flowering tobacco
I can’t help but admire the tenacity of the flowering or jasmine tobacco. It’s been through the vacation drought, attacked by icky bugs several times and knocked around by a clumsy gardener (ahem), yet it’s never stopped blooming. And it blooms a lot! Such a trooper. This one is definitely coming back next year, maybe as the red version.

flower blue lobelia Lobelia
I’ve always liked lobelias and growing one in the balcony certainly didn’t change my mind. It’s been thriving all summer with lots and lots of pretty flowers, regardless of occasional dry spells, wind and sun. My kind of plant!

flower orange pansy Pansies
Ack, poor pansies. The great failure of this summer. I got 8 of them and only one survived until now, and that one only just. They just withered and died, with or without bugs, one by one. And just now I found that the lone survivor has some moldlike stuff growing on it too and doesn’t look very happy. *sigh* I suspect the problem may have been
a) too much heat/sun,
b) too much/wrong fertilizer (the biggest witherings happened soon after fertilizing) or
c) the fact that I got them not too long before the vacation and the dry spell may have been just to much for plants that weren’t properly rooted.
Possibly a combination of all three. Oh well. I like the look of them so I’ll probably try again some other year and then make sure they get a good start.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another Glove-Knitting Frenzy

I've been knitting things in batches lately. First it was the monster scarves, then creature magnets, then hearts gone wild and now, fingerless gloves!

It's funny, but knitting is the one thing I can do after work in the evenings. Work has been busy lately and I've had basically no energy left after I get home. I blob down on the sofa and turn on some nice music while my brain turns itself off. However, subconsciously my hands reach for the needles and yarn and get to work. Eventually, some gloves appear! Zen knitting?

Anyway, most of these are my usual styles, but I also made a new kind of fingerless glove based on requests my customers have made for custom orders. This new style, based on my previous design for fingerless gloves including the striping, now features a longer cuff and thumb. I'll be making more of these, as well as the older styles, from different materials and colours, all on the whim of my subconscious zombie brain. Keep an eye on the Etsy shop for more!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spicy Banana Cake

It seems whenever old bananas gather at our place, great things happen. There's something about them that makes them a magical ├╝ber-ingredient in any baking. Honest.

The recipe for this spicy banana cake is one I've adapted from the banana cake in the Swedish version of this book. (I picked this book up on a whim at a sale and it's become my most used baking book. It receives the Morrgan seal of approval. =) The secret ingredient is the buttermilk, which makes the cake oh-so-moist.

Spicy Banana Cake

100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter
3 dl (~1 1/4 cups) sugar
2 eggs
5 dl (a little over 2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 bananas
~3/4 dl (~1/3 cup) buttermilk

Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon together, then add slowly to the butter-sugar mix. Slice the bananas and add them. Finally mix in the buttermilk.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured tin (about 2 l - 8-9 cups). Bake for about 1 hour at 175°C (~350°F) in the lower half of the oven. Let it cool before serving (it is yummy when still slightly warm, though).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Animal Magnetism

I've been busy again, oh yes. In my spare time these past couple of weeks I've been working on something I've wanted to do for a long time: expanding my line of animal & plant magnets. They're cute, they're strong and they want to help organize your papers on your fridge - what more could one ask for?

It's my favourite kind of fiddly knitting & crochet. =)

A few of the ones in the photo are spoken for, some are already listed in my Etsy, DaWanda and ArtFire shops and I'm adding the rest to them too eventually.

I've got a few more ideas in the works, but if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's a Fail Cake!

Remember the tshirts I got a while ago? One of them was "Fail", the one featuring cows and which I'm in fact wearing right now.

Fail - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Well, look look look look! It's a CAKE! Made from the thsirt design I'm wearing!

Eeeeee, how cute! It's Erin Okuno's submission for the Threadcakes contest. I also found a couple of the other designs we got, "The Day the Fire Brigade Went on Strike" and "Defend the Kingdom", among the entries.

My only question is, how can you eat those sweet little (vodka-containing) cows??

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A busy week and a monstrous weekend

This past week or so, I have...

...gone on board a huge and pretty ship.

...received a giveaway prize: a cute little planet by Kreativlink! If you haven't heard of Kreativlink before, you're missing out and must immediately check out her journals and other fun things. So there.

(The tiny owls are trying to figure out if anyone's home. They're not sure yet.)

...finished a whole bunch of hearts gone wild.

...harvested the first of my balcony garden's radishes! They are yum. =)

...also fiddled with other things in the balcony garden. This is how it currently looks.

...baked a blueberry pie with fresh blueberries. Another yum. =)

...and finally, made lots of monstrous scarves this weekend.
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