Monday, 29 September 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 40

Another monday, a new week...

Week 40 started with early morning fog, a strong coffee and a bike ride to the village
With quiet in the house and the last colourful zinnias on the windowsill
With a rosy bum, with finishing touches, with a hurting wrist and a felting needle
With a doll that is almost done, and another one that I have started with yesterday late in the evening.

Seeing a nose, a chin and a curious smile emerging under my hands, on my work table, makes me happy...

Wishing you a good start of a new week!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Recipes from our Garden: Quince Jelly, Quince Bread and Quince Truffles

If there is a specific taste of autumn that I have been missing here in Sweden, it is the taste of quince. 

Quince bushes aren't very common here, probably due to the climate, and recipes with quinces are a rare find. In Germany, where I grew up, you can buy quinces large as apples at the farmers market or at the greengrocer's, here you really have to keep your eyes open to find any. Two, three weeks ago I started to ask around in the neighbourhood, asked the fruit farmers in the area, but no luck. 

We have a Chaenomeles bush behind our house, which is some kind of quince variety that is only grown for the bright-red flowers, not for the fruits. Last year it had a few very sad-looking tiny and stringy quinces which was why I pruned it quite a lot this spring. 

I have never used fruits from a chaenomeles and there are a lot of different flowering quinces (some might not even taste at all) but since mine smelled deliciously, I gave it a try. The following three recipes can either be made from the Cydonia oblonga quince, large as apples, or from one of the small flowering japonica varieties - as long as they taste anything (you might try to cook one first).
Quince Jelly

You'll need
1kg quince
750ml water
juice of 1 organic lemon
500g jam sugar
sterilized jars with twist-off lids

1. Rinse the fruits, cut in quarters and remove the seeds and the stem. Leave peel intact.
2. Place in a pot and cover with the water, bring to boil. Cook until soft, let cool.

3. Remove the core (I know, quite messy, but the cooking the core adds more flavour) and mash into pulp - I used a blender.

4. Set out a large pot, cover with a cheese cloth or a very fine mesh strainer. Pour the quince pulp in the cloth/ strainer, let drain and stand for an hour or so. 

5. Put the pulp aside (for Quince Fruit Leather) and add the lemon juice to the quince juice. 

6. Measure 500ml of the juice and pour into a pot. Add the jam sugar. 

7. Bring the juice and sugar to boil and stir constantly. Skim the foam and let simmer for at least four minutes, stir constantly.

8. Ladle the jelly into sterilized jars with a twist-off lid. Put on the lids and turn the jars upside down and let cool.  
A traditional sweet treat from my childhood is Quittenbrot (sometimes called Quittenspeck), literally translated Quince Bread or Quince Bacon. It is some kind of very thick and soft fruit leather and has nothing to do with bread or bacon at all, not even in regards to consistence. It is, however, delicious! Also, it is a great recipe for using the quince pulp when you make jelly.

Quince Bread

You'll need
1kg quince
750ml water
500g caster sugar
additional: ground almonds, chopped walnuts or grated coconut

1. Follow the steps 1-5 of the quince jelly recipe above (alternatively, use the pulp left over from the recipe)

2. Weigh out 500g of quince pulp, add 500g sugar.

3. In a large pot, bring to boil for about 60 minutes, stir constantly (I watch a movie while doing so). The quince puree burns easily, so stir stir stir with a wooden spoon - and change hand from time to time if you want to avoid a tendinitis ;-)

4. Cook until the puree is very thick - if you stir it, you should be able to see a "road" at the bottom of your pot (means that you can divide the pulp into two with the wooden spoon while stirring)

5. Cover two baking sheets with baking paper, spread the puree onto it.

6. Let dry in the oven at around 100° C, it will take between 3-4 hours. The quince bread should be rather dry when you touch it.

7. In a dry space, keep the baking sheets for three days. The texture is rather soft, not as dry as fruit leather, more like moist brownies.

8. Cut the quince bread into small rectangles, sprinkle with ground almonds, finely chopped walnuts or with grated coconut. Put in a bisquit tin, with parchment paper between each layer. Store in a cool and dry place.
Last but not least - quince truffles. I make them from quince bread leftovers (the edges from when I cut the quince bread in rectangles). I posted a photo on Instagram the other day and some people asked for the recipe. 

I must confess that I usually improvise the truffles, but I did my best to write down a few directions. Please note that it is a small amount (that was what I had at hand), it made only 25 truffles. If you want to make more, use more of the ingredients below ;-)

Quince Truffles

  You'll need
200g quince bread
1 teaspoon honey
30g soft butter
30ml cream
100g dark chocolate, grated
cocoa powder

additional: flavourless oil for your hands

1. Put the grated chocolate in a bowl.

2. Put butter, honey and cream in a sauce pan and gently heat until the butter melts and the cream is slightly simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate, stir.

3. Let cool and chill for a couple of hours. 

4. Add the quince bread and blend well until the mixture is smooth.

5. Lightly coat your hands in flavourless oil and roll the truffles between your palms*. I don't mind the mess and do it without the oil, works fine ;-)

6. Coat your truffles in cocoa powder.

7. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (three, four days are no problem at all) or freeze for up to two months.

*If the texture of the mixture is too soft, you can add ground almonds or whatever you find suitable. Sometimes I use some grated marzipan, sometimes I even use cake crumbs from freshly-baked dark chocolate brownies - whatever I think would go nicely with quince. 

If you end up with a terrible mess, just put the mixture in a blender, mix well, fill in small jars, put whipped cream on top and serve as a dessert ;-)


Have fun (and enjoy the taste of autumn)

Friday, 26 September 2014

About flowers, dolls and a house in the woods

A couple of weeks ago, Sonja of Feingedacht, a German journalist and blogger, asked me for an interview about flowers, dolls and about our Swedish home. A lot of my readers have asked us to translate the interview into English, and I am very glad that Sonja took the time to do so. You can now read the English version of our interview here*

The three flower photos above are part of my daily bouquet series on Instagram. Last year in May I started to pick a flower bouquet every day, took a photo and posted it on Instagram. Without exception, I posted one flower photo per day until the 1st of November. This year,  I started again in Spring and have since then picked many colourful bouquets in our garden, the meadows and fields nearby. I have still five weeks to go, despite the first frost nights, and soon our garden will fall asleep for a couple of months. Until then, I pick the last marigolds, zinnias and mallows and enjoy the sun (whenever it shines, that is, today has been awful wheather).

Have a cozy friday evening - with less rain and less storm than us here in Skåne!



*also, if you prefer to read the interview in German, you can find it here

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 39 (and a little delay)

Another monday, a new week - and a blog post with a little delay.

I have started week 39 with quite a project yesterday - sorting lots of props and material in my workshop. I have a little sunny studio adjacent to the kitchen where I do all the sewing. It is cozy but rather small, only 9m2 / 100 sq ft in size.

Upstairs I have another studio that is being used for crafting and for taking photos. The good thing about it is the two large windows facing south, it is very bright. The not-so-good thing is that the room actually is a large square hallway, with three doors, and it is a part of our house has been terribly neglected since we moved here last spring. 

I have still not managed to paint the walls (on my to-do list for late autumn now that I will spend less time outside in the garden) and even worse, I still don't have a smart storage system - and there are still quite a few unpacked moving boxes standing around. We are used to do some kind of slalom around cartons and storage boxes, even in the night when it is dark and we are half asleep and on our way through the house - but we can hardly expect our visitors to be as skilled as we are and find the trail through the clutter...

Some months ago, F bought me an archive cabinet at a local flea market, because I dislike digging in boxes to find what I am looking for. For more than sixty years, the wooden cabinet has been used for screws, upholstery nails and the like at the DUX-factory in Sösdala. It looks rather shabby and is in need of some renovation (also on my to-do list for late autumn), but it is oh so practical for all the small props that I use for my taking pictures of my work! Umpteen sets of dolly bedclothes, all the miniature china, copper pots and pans, little books and baskets and picture frames, tiny Christmas decorations - and a whole drawer for all the small garden props. Neatly labelled and sorted and a pleasure to look at! Also, one can see the floor again in the room upstairs ;-) 

Next on my list is sorting material in the large cabinet that I use for craft supplies and decorate the room - I am so much looking forward to having an uncluttered workspace upstairs that is worth the name! I'll save those horrible before-photos to the day when there are enough after-photos to show or else you'd start to question my aesthetic qualities ;-)

So, after a day sorting, decluttering and after severe attempts to get rid of the chaos upstairs, I had to do something more uplifting yesterday than writing a blog post about the mess in my workshop - hence the wee delay of updates.

I hope your week started less messy and send you my warmest autumn greetings from Snogerups Gård where it is sunny and calm today.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Some blue, some green

Some blue, some green, she says.
And I ask
What kind of blue, what kind of green?
And with a deep, deep sigh she says:
 Some blue,
Like the September sky
Like the high, clear sound of the hazelnuts
When they fall down from the tree
Like the lupins, like the bellflowers
That still grow in the meadow
Like the dawn, with wafts of mist
And a chilly little breeze.

That kind of blue, she says.

And the green? What about the green?
Some green, 

Like the fern and the moss
Like a quiet forest lake
In the evening sun
Like the sound of the dragonflies
Under the pine trees, in the high grass
Like the apples that we collect
In our wicker basket, every day

That kind of green, she says.

Let me introduce little Hope (this is the name her new family has given her).

Hope stands 53cm/ 21" tall and is made from cotton interlock, stuffed with organic wool. Her hair is crocheted from mohair yarn, braided in a simple updo. 

She is wearing a hand-dyed dress made from vintage silk, a tulle skirt, leggings, shoes, undies and a little jacket that will keep her warm in a chilly autumn breeze. From some of the silk fabrics that I recently dyed, I made Hope a little necklace.

Sending you some blue, some green and warm greetings from Sweden,


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