Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest post at Rouge & Whimsy

The past few days I have been busy, busy, busy with the final preparations for BlytheCon UK. I might go AWOL over the weekend after the event finishes as I a) sleep, b) relax, c) probably slightly mourn its loss (I've been working on it for a long time now).

Today, I have a guest post up over at Rouge & Whimsy. You can find it here.

I hope to see some of you at BlytheCon UK. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


No, I didn't see a Neil Simon play recently. I went to Brighton. That gem of a south coast seaside resort town. It may be past its heyday, but that place is pretty awesome.

The Scot has a friend from uni who lives there these days, so we were graciously offered a place to stay should we ever want to have a weekend away. We'd wanted to go during the summer, but it just didn't happen. This weekend, however, couldn't have been better (well, except for me remembering sunscreen - that would've been better than the burn I got on Saturday).

beach huts!

We arrived just past lunchtime on Saturday and headed to the waterfront. We chose to walk West, which meant we actually spent the bulk of our wanders in Hove, and not Brighton proper. But this was no matter. Lovely smooth pebble beaches, a cool but sunny temperature, and a nice breeze made for fabulous wandering. We even happened upon a little food festival - so lunch was easily sorted. For dessert I had a Portuguese eclair, which had a really interesting cream filling. I wish I knew exactly what it was. It was delish.

i am loved
way better than a carved tree

After we met up with our hosts, we headed out to Devil's Dyke. It wasn't a spot I was familiar with, but it's gorgeous.

sunset girl

At the suggestion of my much more athletic host, we walked down the outside of the big hill next to the dyke and then hiked up the inside of the dyke. While gorgeous, it was not the best thing for me + asthma + clogs. But I did have a fair sense of accomplishment when we finished (and a good appetite for the dinner at the adjacent pub!).


On Sunday, we headed to the Royal Pavilion. I'd been before, but The Scot hadn't. This visit was better than my first as they had much neater showcasing of the restoration works as well as having Regency fashion on display throughout. It's a garishly odd building, but I really quite like it.

royal pavilion

We spent the rest of the day wandering around The Lanes and all the lovely shops (and a sadly disappointing cupcake shop) and spent lots of 2p coins in the machines on the Palace Pier.

sea green

Dinner was totally tasty (at FishyFishy) and we came home to London on a late train as a pair of tired puppies. Brighton is one of those places that is so close that we should visit often, and yet this is our first trip there together. Definitely on the list of places to return.

i can nearly see france!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Full of Friends

Here in London, it definitely seems that Fall is upon us. (Though here in the UK they always say Autumn). September has seen me be ridiculously busy getting ready for BlytheCon UK (it's on Saturday!) and trying very hard to find a job. Clearly one has been more successful than the other. However, during the past month or 2, I've been so glad to be surrounded by friends, both next to me in the real world and in this lovely virtual land of blogs, tweets, and Flickrness. Erika over at Rouge and Whimsy had a lovely idea for September of having not-quite-sponsors. Free "ad" space and blog promos for anyone who wanted to take the time. I thought it was a lovely idea and so I'm snagging it and doing a bit of pay-it-forward action at the same time.

If you've never promoted your blog or shop or even if you're a seasoned pro, I would love to feature you here on {she's crafty} during October. I would prefer blogs and shops that are in keeping with the general themes and feelings of my blog (crafts, blythes, travel, food and fun) and do reserve the right to politely decline any blog or shop that I feel uncomfortable having on my sidebar (but I doubt very much that will be at all the case).

If you're game to try something new,
or just get some new promotion for your blog or shop, jump right in! Send your ad (no blinkies please) and blog or shop link to laurakateiscrafty(at)gmail(dot)com by Thursday 29 September. I'll send you a little bit more info then on what you can expect throughout the month.

I hope this is an idea that people are interested in, because I think it would be lovely to share the thoughts and creations of others here on {she's crafty} much more often than I currently do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Return of the Mac ('n' cheese)

Why, yes. I did just post that title.

I also made some amaaazing macaroni and cheese the other night. Using my general knowledge of making creamy/white sauces and love of all things pasta, I came up with a recipe that's pretty darn tasty. And there's no Velveeta for miles.

mac 'n' cheese

Laura Kate's Amazeballs Mostly Stovetop Mac 'n' Cheese
serves 2

Dry macaroni
Heavy cream
Cheese of some sort (grated, preferably)

Preheat oven broiler/grill to 300F-ish
1 - In a medium saucepan boil up some salted water and toss in your dry macaroni (mine was the large kind and I put in 3 hearty handfuls).

2 - Cook to al dente and drain (always important when you'll be doing more cooking with pasta - don't overcook it).

3 - Return to the pan (heat on low) and plop in a good-sized nugget of butter (about 1 Tablespoon) and coat pasta well as it melts.

4 - To that add 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream and sprinkle on 1/2 - 1 teaspoon nutmeg (to taste).

5 - Keep stirring that on low heat til the cream has thickened a bit.

6 - Increase heat slightly, stirring constantly so as not to burn the cream, and add in about a cup of cheese. This is a great opportunity to use up leftovers in your fridge. I used some grated cheddar and grated monterey jack and a touch of parmesan. Be sure to hold some back for later, however.

7 - Stir til it's a melty, gooey, mess of drool-worthiness.

8 - Take the whole lot off the heat and spoon into a small casserole dish or other ovenproof dish and sprinkle 1/4 - 1/2 cup of grated cheese over the top, aiming to not leave any pasta uncovered.

9 - Place in the hot oven, under the broiler/grill for 5-10 minutes, or until the top is nice and bubbly and just browned. OR you could leave it in a regular oven for longer and just brown the top prior to serving.

10 - ENJOY!

Nom nom nom nom nom

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mad About the Squares

I had a neat little post planned for the past couple days, but then a much better-known blogger happened to do a super similar post. And as I don't relish sharing my thoughts and ideas on how to create something right after someone else has, I'll save that tutorial/pretty post for another time.

This week I've been keeping busy with planning and organizing for BlytheCon UK. And knitting. The knitting is for a semi-secret project which I hope to tell you about in the near future. I also got a fair bit of baking in. But didn't snap any good pics. Therefore, it's time for a little post o'favorites. What sort of favorites? Grannies.

Granny squares. The fun, fabulous, colorful little gems of the crochet world. One of the few things I enjoy crocheting.



Ravilious blanket

granny madness


Crochet close up

rainbow pillow

Sunburst Blanket II

While back in Wisconsin this summer, I started a granny square afghan with some lovely shades of Cascade 220 I had stashed away there. But I didn't bring it back to London. I think it will be quite fun to see if I can finish it up at Christmastime. So much fun in such little squares. And so many options and varieties and final projects. A crafter's dream, really.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wrapping it up

Now that I've been back in London for 2 1/2 weeks and I've finished writing all about our trip around the US, I thought I'd just make a wee post with the wrap up. A nice reference to show all the bits of the Adventure in one place. And maybe for anyone who was interested to catch up on a part they missed!

And, if you hadn't noticed already, all these places (save for the train trip), plus home, are pointed out on this map :)

Part 1: Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo, WI

Part 2: Washington Island, Door County, WI

Part 3: Adventures around Madison, WI

Part 4: The Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis, WI

Part 5: Chicago (Day One)and (Day Two)

Part 6: 19 hours by train on The City Of New Orleans

Part 7: New Orleans (Wed-Fri) and (Gator Day!)

This definitely will be a summer vacation that I'll never forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

American Adventures: Part 7 (GATORS!)

Part 7: In which we go on a swamp tour

Our Saturday in New Orleans was a hot one. And was largely spent outside of New Orleans. We took a swamp tour. A glorious, fabulous, quirky, silly, touristy, marvelous, cajun swamp tour. We visited the Honey Island Swamp near Slidell, Louisiana. And, apparently, we chose the same tour company as the Jolie-Pitts, Forrest Whitaker, Jason Lee and others. No celebrity spotting on our tour, though.

The tour was ridiculously overpriced as we got the ticket that included pick-off and drop-off in New Orleans. We took a mini bus, so I know the profit on the transport was huuuuge, but as my sister was working and it was convenient, we didn't care too much. Sometimes you spend too much on vacation fun.

i'm on a boat!

For me, the tour was all about one thing: gators. Now, of course they don't guarantee that you'll see a gator. But we saw plenty. It was so fun!

louisiana swamp tour gators!

Our tour guide was absolutely mental. But in a good way. I'm sure that all his stories have elements of truth, and some certainly were fact. But a lot seemed to be tall tales spun in the swamp. But he got a little alligator to chomp a marshmallow off a stick. So that dude is golden in my eyes.


It really was just so much fun!

"i hope the gators don't eat me!"

the boy on a boat

I loved the colors of the swamp. Especially once we came off the rather calm, brown waters of the main bits of the Pearl River and into the narrower channels of the swamp. The deeper we got the greener the water became (covered in tiny plants) and the more golden the air became.

swamp thing

The wildlife was certainly something to admire. We saw alligators, raccoons (nothing special there, but Louisiana raccoons are smaller than their midwestern cousins), herons, giant spiders, beautiful dragonflies - so many lovely creatures!

blue heron

tall trees, tall grass

girl in a swamp

It was an experience I'll never forget. I'm so glad we went!

That night,after a nice, cool, rest at my sister's house (and a change of clothes!) we dined out at Bistro Daisy. My brother-in-law is a chef and has been at Daisy since its beginning. But, taking a new position as a personal chef to a well-to-do family (in aid of the incoming bambino), it was his last night there. As the sous chef, there were a lot of things that were made by him exclusively. I had his ravioli. And it was amazing. I have since tried to duplicate it and not been terribly successful. But it was a great last meal out in New Orleans.

Bistro Daisy

The next day we had ice cream for brunch (at Creole Creamery - land of quirky, local flavors) and soon after got our cab to the airport. Many hours (aka: the next morning) later (via Dallas), we touched down at Heathrow. Our American Adventures over. For this year. For this summer. Life may bring me back to the US to live for a while in the not-too-distant future. But it won't diminish the special place this trip has had in my heart: taking my main squeeze through my country, to my places, to see things that can only be found in that land. I'll keep this trip with me for a while, I think. It was a pretty special couple of weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

American Adventures: Part 7 (Wed-Fri)

Part 7: The Big Easy (Wednesday to Friday)

We arrived to New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon. After a long train journey, we really weren't up to much that evening, but my sister took us out to dinner at Mulate's. It's rather touristy, but not in a bad way. Delicious cajun food. Nom nom nom.

ready to eat


Our first full day started off with us being knocked over by the heat. It was around 100°F (37°Cish). I'm from the upper Midwest. I get humidity. But not that sort of humidity. I was a sweaty beast. Additionally, we made the mistake of going out between about 10:30am - 2pm. Stupid.

We wandered around the French Quarter. Having been before, I didn't take many photos. And, being early-ish in the day during the mid-week, there were many places not yet open. But Jackson Square was, as always, lovely.

Jackson Square

En route home (well, to my sister's house anyhow), we hopped on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar. The streetcars are so beautiful. They're vintage, with original features. Beautiful hardwood and open windows (no a/c here!) make for a lovely ride through the Garden District. The last 2 times I'd visited New Orleans, they weren't running again yet after Katrina. I'm glad that on this visit I finally got to experience them. (Plus, they're only $1.25!)

fortuna and the streetcar

st. charles avenue streetcar

On Friday, we stayed in for the morning - a much wiser decision! Our afternoon wander took us to Magazine Street and involved delicious snowballs - better than any snow cone I've ever had - and super yummy po-boy's at Mahony's. Root beer glazed ham? Yes, please!

We stopped at the new Soda Shop at the National WW2 Museum. I visited the museum on my last trip, and the boy wasn't particularly interested. So we just stopped in for drinks and to take in the atmosphere.

mmmm...fresh soda

at the WW2 museum soda shop

Before we headed to the beautiful and unique theatre production,"Darwin the Dinosaur", we took some photos along the river.

little girl, big river.

After the show, we hopped over to Cafe du Monde. mmmm...beignets.

nom nom nom


cafe du monde!

A great start to a great few days in such a beautiful city. The next day we visited some gators. I'll tell you all about it. :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Con is (nearly) On

Most of you are aware that I'm organizing BlytheCon UK 2011. I've mentioned it a bit.

Well, this week has been superbusy in the ways of the BlytheCon. After a bit of shopping for gobs of envelopes, a ginormous stamp pad, and having many many copies run off I set off to get the tickets ready to mail out.

It was quite an undertaking.

all to be stuffed

I sillily thought I'd get it done in one night. It took about 2 1/2 days, really. My gorgeous boyfriend helped out by adding the return address to 150+ envelopes (I did the rest while he was at work making money such that we can eat and things). I tried to use my prettiest penmanship to write out all the addresses. There were cramped hands. There was a weirdly swollen thumb. I don't understand how professional calligraphers manage.

After all the envelopes were ready I sorted them into piles: UK and everywhere else. I stuffed! And then I stamped. Remember the awesome stamp I got a while back?

stampy stamp

It has now been put to use. Well to use, at that!

coming soon to a mailbox near you

Today I took them to the post office. I cost a lot more than I expected. I had not transferred enough from the BCUK account to my own. I owe myself a rather large chunk of change! (oops).

I also booked the after party. Details will be shared closer to the date, but I think it's gonna be faaaaabulous. Cocktails! Food! An exclusive, and so pretty, venue!
BlytheCon UK after party!

Next up: bonding with the stamp again and getting the goodie bags started.

After the tickets get finished...

4 weeks from today. I can't wait!