Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Recipes from our Garden - Crispy Apple Chips

Autumn spoils us with warm September sun and a blue sky. We spend as much time as we can outside in the green, do garden work, take walks in the forest and pick mushrooms, berries and apples.

Not far from our house there is an abandoned cottage. For the past ten, fifteen years, the owner hasn't used it. Behind the house, in the overgrown garden, there are standing three old apple trees. In the nights, the deer and elks come to feast on the windfalls. In the daytime, the wasps enjoy the quiet in the high grass.

The owner has given us permission to pick whatever grows in the garden, and today I went down to the cottage to pick apples for chutneys and jellies and came home with three heavy baskets filled with the nicest red fruits.
One thing I love to do during autumn is to make crispy apple chips. We have a food dehydrator that I often use for making classic dried apple rings, but for this recipe I dry the sliced apples in the oven.

You'll need:

Apples (I use a not too sweet variety, such as Belle de Boskoop or Gala)
150g sugar
150ml water*

Depending on the size, you will need about 4-5 apples per baking sheet.

1. Rinse the apples

2. In a small pot, bring the sugar and the water to boil gently. Turn off the heat and let cool a bit.

3. Slice your apples with the peel and the core. The trick is to slice them really thin - I use a mandoline or a sharp knife - or else they will get a chewing-gum-like consistence.

4. Add the apple slices to the sugar syrup and stir gently so that each slice is coated with the syrup. Let soak for five minutes.

5. Heat your oven, 100°C if you have a convection oven, 110°C if you use normal top and lower heat.

6. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and lift the apple slices one by one from the syrup and shake of the excess. Place each on the parchment paper - make sure that they don't overlap.

7. Put the baking sheet in the oven and dry the apple slices for 60 minutes. If you have an convection oven, you can dry several baking sheets at a time. 

8. If they are done, the apple chips should be golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, remove the apple chips immediately from the parchment paper and let cool on a cooling rack. When cooling down, the apple chips get crispy. If not, you might want to dry them for a few more minutes in the oven (on the cooling rack). 

9. Store in an air-tight container. 

*If I have half a lemon at hand, I use the lemon juice and add some water (150ml). 

A friendly warning: The apple chips are addictive and have a very short shelf-life - simply due to the fact that you want to eat them in no time ;-)

Instead of apples, you can also use pear or quinces or add some grated green ginger, cardamon or cinnamon to the syrup. For an even healthier snack - minus the sugar, that is - you can simply skip the syrup and dry thin apple slices in the oven, the food dehydrator or simply on a string in a warm and dry place. They will turn out less crunchy and crispy (the sugar does the trick), but we love them like that simple, too...
I often put apple chips on a string and wrap them in cellophane to give them away as a little gift when visiting friends. They'd make a nice present for Christmas, too (instead of cookies) and are a great and easy-to-make gift when it is Sunday, the shops are closed (happens in the countryside) and I just need something small to not come empty-handed...

Sending you an autumn breeze,


Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 38

Another monday, a new week. 

An eventful weekend lies behind us. Elections in Sweden, an intense and inspiring work meeting with a band that is soon going to record in F's music studio, mushroom picking, plenty of visitors, plenty of things on our to-do lists.

Today's peace was quite a contrast to the past few days. 
In the early morning, I started with sketches of doll furniture to prepare for a future project, teaming up with Anja, an extraordinarily talented woman who inspires me a lot with her work. I am so happy to have such a skilled wood carver in my family and I am very much looking forward to sharing more about our project with you here on my blog.

This autumn will be creative in many ways. Today I started with an online class run by my colleague Stephanie Levy, a mixed-media artist from Tennessee, USA, living in Berlin. We met last year at The Hive, the European Blogger Conference and have been in touch since then. Stephanie teaches online and live courses - she truly radiates creativity. I feel honoured that I have been asked to join her as an interview partner for the autumn course of her online workshop "The Creative Courageous Year" and I am looking forward to meeting Stephanie's students from all over the world while sitting at the kitchen table in a little red house in the woods in Skåne...

Tomorrow I will be listing a few more doll clothes sets (comfy dress and leggings), made from colourful organic/ Gots-certified jersey fabrics to brighten up autumn days. Last time the sets sold very quickly and a few of you had asked for more - you can find them in my webshop tomorrow at 4 p.m. CET. 

Sending you sunny greetings from a surprisingly warm and autumnal Sweden,


Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Mushroom Year

"Do you think it is a mushroom year?" I ask, a bit worried.

"There is no doubt about it", he replies, pretending to be calm. "Yesterday the neighbour had to climb over three or four of these giants to get to the front door, I've heard". 

"We better don't leave the house without baskets and a mushroom knife, you never know", I say.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Scents of late summer - herbal sachets

The scents from our garden, gathered in small sachets, made from fabric that I dyed some time ago. 
Each of the sachets is filled with dried herbs from our garden, lemon verbena, mint, lavender, rose petals, oregano, catnip, lemon balm and pineapple sage. We use them in the linen cupboard, the wardrobes and in the boxes with summer clothes that are stored away. In my studio, I put herb sachets between my fabrics, in my stash of wool and even in all the small boxes with vintage lace and ribbons.

Autum is knocking on our door, and as every year, I wish that summer could stay a little longer. Soon I am going to harvest the last herbs in our garden before putting everything to rest for the coming months. When it is cold and dark outside, I will enjoy a little portion of summer every now and then. Every time I'll open the linen cupboard, I will draw a deep breath of lavender and lemon verbena, mint and pineapple sage, and remember that, in only a couple of months, my garden will awake refreshed and ready for another season...

Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 37

Another monday, a new week...

I am preparing for autumn, making dolly dresses with tiny apple appliqués, watching the deer from my window, not only the porcelain ones, and trying to find a way to organise my little studio. 

Early in the morning I made a few simple 'project bags' - small bags for all those half-finished doll parts, pieces of crochet work and quilt hexagons - to establish some kind of order in my sewing room and in the rest of the house. I personally don't mind cotton reels on the kitchen floor and a hotchpotch of buttons on the coffee table, but it is nice to have those things handy when I try to find the cosiest/ warmest/ sunniest spot in the house for my work during the colder season...

In the afternoon I went through order lists, counted calendar days and breathed a deep sigh. I can't believe that I am thinking of Christmas already while picking the last late-summer flowers for my daily bouquets. But while I am typing this, I can hear the wild geese high up in the evening sky. Soon, soon, my mondays will start with bringing in a huge basket of firewood...

Enjoy the week, enjoy sunny autumn days!



Sunday, 7 September 2014

The best thing about a little September rain

The best thing about a little September rain
Is all the chanterelles toasts one gets to eat
Kiki says

And quick as a wink
(While I am still counting raindrops)
She has filled her little basket

Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday in my studio - week 36

Another monday, a new week that started with the nicest late summer weather. 

Already in the morning, I switched rooms, from my studio to a sunny spot in the garden, where I sat until now, stuffed limbs, typed emails and made doll heads.Today we even picked the first grapes of the season that grow behind our house - within an arm's length actually. The vine tendrils are happily framing one of my studio windows, I just have to open it to pick grapes for a quick snack while working, isn't that convenient? 

Yesterday on a fleamarket near Stockamöllan, I found this vintage play stove, made in GDR.  When I was eight years old, I once visited a girl that had exactly the same little stove. We miserably failed trying to make pancakes in her room (the stove works with with hexamine fuel tablets) and turned everything in a total mess while our parents were chatting over coffee and cake, and the afternoon ended in a lot of ranting and quite a few tears. I am not sure that they ever could get those small play kitchen pans clean again. Funnily, I had totally forgotten about that incident until yesterday, when I found the little stove under a pile of fabrics ;-)

The week will be a busy one, but tonight's highlight will be the choir practice that has started again after a long summer break. I am very much looking forward to meet everyone again, and to spend the evening singing...

From a late-summery Skåne I am sending you a warm breeze, hoping your week has started smoothly and with sunshine,


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pillow Parade

Yesterday evening I sorted boxes with old fabric scraps, when all of the sudden my fingers started itching. Oh, I thought, I should better not sew anything but see to it that this mess gets cleaned up.
(I must confess that I have a gentle tendency to not complete certain tasks, especially when they are boring)
 I could write a long post about how I tried to avoid to give in to the temptation to leave that chaos and to start with a more fun project, but in the end, I could no longer resist and made eleven tiny pillows as props for Smultron Cottage

The amount of fabric scraps got slightly reduced, whereas the amount of cosiness in Kiki's little house certainly has increased, which is at least something. My studio, however, looks like after a tornado thanks to that pillow parade. Sometimes I do wish that my 1:6 scale thinking could also get applied to all the real housework. In the blink of an eye, with just a dapper wave of a hand, floors would be clean and windows shiny again!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

New in the webshop - doll clothes

Six clothes sets, a long-sleeve dress and comfy leggings, are waiting for you in my webshop. Each set is made of colourful organic/ GOTS-certified fabrics and with a lot of love and costs 50€ plus shipping. 

The clothes fit a 50-55cm/ 20-22" Fröken Skicklig doll or any other doll with similar measurements. The trimmings and cuffs are elastic, the dresses have a half-opening in the back for easier play. Due to a risk of choking hazard (contains small parts), these doll clothes aren't suitable for children under younger than three years of age.

Dress and leggings of each set can be easily combined with other pieces from this little upload. Get ready for autumn, chilly evenings and dress your doll in colourful and comfy clothes!



All six sets have found a new home already 
(wow, that was really quick!)
Thank you for your fantastic support!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 35

Another monday, a new week. Since 8 o' clock, I have been sewing, stuffed doll limbs, crocheted shoes and braided a little girl's hair for a photo shooting in the garden. 
At noon, when my eyes started to get really tired, I took a short lunch break, put on my wellies and grabbed a basket. Half an hour later, it was filled with lots of porcini and with chanterelles.
Back home, I cut fabrics, oiled the sewing machine and did paperwork.
Then the neighbour passed by with cake (always welcome), the tea kettle sang a cheerful melody while I was quickly ordering fabrics - and on my work table I have still a few doll dresses waiting to be finished (you will find them in my webshop tomorrow). That is what I call an efficient work day!

And if someone of you knows of a helpful fairy that is good at needlework and proficient in mycology, please send her my way. I promise I'll share that slice of butter-cream cake with her.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Some special kind of happiness: Loppislycka

In the past years as a German expat in Sweden, I have learned that, in order to feel loppislycka, a special kind of Swedish flea market bliss, you'll need sharp elbows, alert eyes and a proper breakfast. Most of all, you'll need a good strategy. I usually write a list with things I want to buy - four, five items I will be looking for. Once I am at the flea market, I act strategically and try to find the top-priority thing on my list, then I work my way forward and down the list. 
(In 95% of the times I visit a flea market, that list prevents me from mispurchases)
Once a year there is a loppis, a big fleamarket in Sösdala, where we live. Already at the cashpoint at the small supermarket you can tell that something important is going on, it doesn't happen too often that people are queuing there at 10 a.m. on a saturday.

I got slightly nervous yesterday when I saw Lina, my sweet neighbour, in front of the line - because I knew she would have an advantage of at least three (!!) minutes. We amused the waiting crowd by loudly proclaiming our strategies in how to be the first at the flea market table with fabrics and haberdashery. Once I was finished, I ran as fast as I could to catch up.
Three minutes advantage! And the flea market had already started!
My first finds were so called Allmoge objects, small copper and brass things that people usually collect for display in type cases. It was the table with only a few visitors and a first rush of loppislycka started to kick in when I snatched a coffee kettle, a little brass handbell, a tiny coffee grinder and a properly functioning oil lamp - the perfect miniature props for a certain girl who never can have enough things in her little cottage!

A very pretty yellow doll's pram caught my eyes, too, but alas! it was already sold to a very happy family (also, it wasn't on my list of must-haves). I found a beautiful tea service, vintage tins and pastel bedside lamps but opted for stainless-steel mixing bowls instead. A book on preservation of veggies and fruits made it into my basket as well as two slightly old-fashioned - in regards to the perception of women - kitchen almanacs from the 1950's. If I don't want to make umpteen hedgehog cakes or read the guide on how many pillowcases a good homekeeper should have in the linen press, I might paper a room with all the pages ;-)
After an hour and three or four rounds, I called yesterday's flea market a successful one. I suspect my neighbour for having caused quite some diversion though by sending a handful of friends, the parent of a student, the pastor and the chairman of the local permaculture society my way for a chat, but I tried my best to stay undeterred, focusing on the next thing on my list (my sincere apologies to you all if I seemed very unapproachable yesterday, I had a mission to fulfill ;-)

For those of you who wonder who of us two was first at the table with haberdashery and fabrics - the answer is: none of us. I didn't see a single jar with buttons nor did I find any fabrics, something I had hoped for. It didn't do any harm to my loppislycka though. One day later, all the brass and copper finds are polished, the kitchen accessories clean and shiny, we are having a late sunday tea, flipping through kitchen almanacs from the 1950's - and I slowly get cravings for tinned pineapple, canapés and for a slice of hedgehog cake ;-)



P.S. And just for the record: my neighbour is a very sweet and warmhearted person. Really, the best neighbour one could ask for! 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 34

Week 34 has started with me picking a quick bouquet in the garden, still in my nightgown, with six candles on a birthday cake, breakfast in bed, unwrapping of gifts and two birthday songs, one in German, one in Swedish. I sang quite flat, as I use to early in the mornings (Also, I hadn't had a cup of coffee then, a must for me to feel like a human being before I start with the day)

In Sweden, the school holidays are over, and everything is getting slowly back to old routines, even the weather, it feels like autumn. We took it rather slow today in the forenoon though, but I sneaked away for three hours or so to work on a few drafts for a new project - something I look forward to finish this week. I love to do sketches, but I rarely find the time for it, and the more I enjoy it once I am sitting at the plotting table or at my easel...

Hope you too had a lovely start of week 34, with lots of sunshine and something nice to look forward to.