I just love neck warmers – they keep you toasty warm and don’t get all tangled up when you try to tuck them into your coat/jacket/jersey collar.

Here’s a quickie you can rustle up in no time at all – and it’s dirt cheap.

I had a piece of fleece fabric that has been lying around for ages. Hop down to your nearest and dearest fabric shop and buy a quarter of a meter. Or buy more and keep the rest to fling together a last-minute gift. The piece I had was 22cm wide and long.

Step 1.
Cut fabric to desired width. I worked with what I had, which was 22cm (a nice width, I may say). Now wrap the fabric around your neck once and let it overlap quite generously. Mark and cut to desired length (mine came to about 58cm long).

Step 1.

Step 2:
Fold in half so the ends meet. Now use your best china to help you shape the ends… You can make them as round or as pointy as you want. I was downstairs and the fabric chalk was upstairs so I just used blackboard chalk. Really, all you want is a more-or-less guideline. It’s fleece, not raw silk 🙂

Step 2.

Step 3:
Cut to shape. I eventually made the ends slightly pointier, but really, it’s up to you. There are no rules.

Step 3.

Step 4:
Done. Wrap your warmer around your neck and secure with a brooch. I used a flower I had crocheted a few days ago.

How quick was that?

Seriously, the hardest part was taking the photo of myself 🙂

Here’s a  link to a great tutorial for another, easy flower to crochet. Sew a safety pin to the back and you can add it to anything: http://www.craftstylish.com/item/4325/how-to-crochet-a-flower-part-1

An easy little flower with a great tut.

Here’s a super quick way to make a fabulous gift in a jar.

 You will need*:
• A glass jar (I got this one from Mr Price Home, but have also used good ol’ canning jars from Pick ‘n Pay – not quite as pretty, but they do the job well)
• Olives (black, green and calamata)
• A tub of feta cheese
• Sundried tomatoes (either the dry ones from PnP, or Woolies/Ina Paarman sachets in oil)
• Fresh rosemary
• Extra virgin olive oil
*(Quantities obviously vary according to the size of the jar.)

Three easy steps:
Step 1: Sterilise the jar (simply submerge the jars, lids and rings in a large pot of water on the stove and boil for ten minutes.
Allow to cool. Now remove from water and leave to dry while you have a cup of coffee.)

Step 2: Layer the tomatoes, cheese and olives. Stick a few rosemary sprigs in between the layers and down the sides. Fill with olive oil. Make sure the outside of the jar is wiped clean so it doesn’t slip out your hands when you pick it up, which has happened.

Step 3: Give it away, with the instruction to keep it in the fridge. Or keep it for yourself… and gift a bunch of flowers instead! It’s great in salads, or as a little snack with your sundowner.

I didn’t put a label on the jar because I figured it’s pretty obvious what’s inside 🙂 Besides, unless they’re really well done, labels fade and tear and just end up looking tatty.

My last-born, Felix the JRT, doesn’t do winter. Especially winter with a generous downpour of arctic rain. So I got him a fleecy coat from the vet shop. Only it’s about five sizes too big (it fits his ego, but looks decidedly strange on his body…).

Now, being an avid crocheter, I naturally launched an internet search for a manly, yet cozy, dog sweater pattern but, my goodness, did I get distracted by just the weirdest stuff people seem set on whipping up! Here, then, are some items you really, really shouldn’t crochet. Ever. As in never, ever, ever…

Okay, so there’s a gas shortage in Cape Town. Probably in the country, but who cares. What’s of paramount importance is that there’s a shortage in Cape Town. And it’s raining. Lots. Which means the SA default – the family braai – just won’t cut it.

Funny how, not having a stove top to cook on, instantly wipes from memory every dish that can be prepared other than, well, on the stove top. So to Google we go and, half an hour’s research later, the kitchen is a veritable hive of activity as the first oven-baked risotto is flung together – a patchwork of several recipes sewn together with some inventive, need-driven alterations.

This, then, is what was presented:

Mixed Veg Oven-baked Risotto

You’ll need:

1 x microwave oven
1 x electric oven
2 or 3 leeks, cut into rings
1 red/yellow pepper, cut into thin-ish strips
1 large punnet of fresh mushrooms, sliced
some garlic chives, chopped (or non-garlic if you want…there were garlic ones in the fridge, begging for attention)
1 packet of dried fancy mushrooms (can’t remember which ones they were)
a dash of olive oil
a knob of butter
1 cup long-grain rice, like Arborio
grated Parmesan cheese
2,5 cups hot chicken or veg stock (or 2 cups of stock and half a cup white wine – there was only red wine in the house at the time)

Now you:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain off the water, but keep it. Squeeze out any excess water from the mushrooms and chop up (the mushrooms, not the water, silly). Add this water to the stock.

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a not-too-deep oven dish. Add the knob of butter and bang into the microwave oven for a few seconds. Add all the veg and return to microwave oven. Cook for about, oh, I don’t know, four minutes or so. Can’t say I timed this step… Don’t overcook – it still has some time to do in the oven.

Remove dish. In a separate little dish, melt a tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Add rice and stir to coat. Add this mixture to the veggies. Add hot stock and stick dish into oven, uncovered. Go have a glass of wine so that you’re not tempted to stir it.

All the recipes said to cook for 20 minutes until al dente, but mine were still rock hard, so I cooked it for another five minutes, and then set off on another 10 minutes,  even upping the heat a bit. It didn’t need all of the last 10 minutes though. Anyway, cook until done, but not mushy. The rice must still have a bit of resistance.

Add lots of Parmesan cheese (no, really, lots – I didn’t have freshly grated so I used a 60g tub from Woolies, which isn’t cardboard like some of the other varieties). Stir cheese through dish and return to oven for a minute or two. Season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. If your fridge is well stocked, top with some fresh Parmesan shavings.

Serve, and be suitably amazed that you can actually get a creamy risotto without all the elbow-numbing stirring that the stove-top variety requires.

We had a meat-free day, so I just piled the risotto into three dishes and we had ourselves a feast. The recipe will make four servings if you’re having meat with it.

Sorry, I didn’t take photos – we were way too hungry! Besides, I had no idea it was going to turn out so nice. Next time I make it, I’ll duly record the process.

How to walk a dog in the city

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Dog stuff
Tags: , , ,

Oh, yes, there are some protocols attached to walking a dog in the city…

  • Get a harness. Don’t just go and attach the leash to the collar. City dogs are notoriously dof* and will challenge four lanes of peak hour traffic to a stand-off.  In any case, most dogs can spot a sewer rat three blocks away and will rip their necks from the collar before you’ll have time to screech “heel”.
  • Keep a tight rein. People who wander around cities are either workers in their office gear, tourists tripping over their camera straps or clubgoers still trying to figure out where they left their cars the night before. The first group will more than likely really really prefer not to take the residue of Buster’s gob into the boardroom, the second lot will fall over and sue you in US dollars, and the latter will retreat further into bewilderment as they attempt to use their remote controls to deactivate your dog’s bark. Keep Buster close to your side as you navigate your way through the throngs.
  • Stock up on pooh bags. Tie a few to the leash, stuff them in your jeans pocket or get/make a special holder, but don’t leave home without them. Stepping into someone’s dog pooh is yuck. Stepping over and around lots of someones’ dog pooh is just as yuck. So then, pick up after Fido. Don’t know how? Below are photos that will hopefully demonstrate, step-by-step, this delicate dance between bag and pooh which will see the pooh safely deposited, and your hands fresh as a daisy…

* dim, as in not-the-brightest-bulb-on-the-christmas-tree…