Monthly Archives: October 2013

Minion Crochet Hat for Halloween

Minion HatWith Halloween coming up, I got a request to make a hat for young baby J.  We agreed on a Minion Hat, so J’s Mum will buy him a bright yellow top and overalls.  I can’t wait to see the outfit all together!

Below is the pattern that I came up with.  You could make two eyes if you wanted, and do more of the ‘hair’.

You can download a PDF version here: Minion Hat.

Minion Hat

50gm Bright Yellow 8ply (DK)
10gm Black 8ply (DK)
10gm White 8ply (DK)
5gm Brown 8ply (DK)
5gm Grey 8ply (DK)

= Chain.
Hdc = Half double crochet.
Dc = Double crochet.
Rep = Repeat.
Sc = Single crochet.
Sl st = Slip stitch.
St(s) = Stitch(es).

Note: Ch 3 at beg of round counts as dc.
Use 5mm (H) Hook
US Stitches

*For child size complete Round 5, for adult size complete Round 5 & 6.

With Bright Yellow
Round 1: Magic Ring, 12 dc, sl st to first dc (12 dc)
Round 2: Ch 3, dc in same sp, 2 dc in each dc around, sl st to join (24 sts)
Round 3: Ch 3, *2 dc in st, 1 dc**. Rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (36 sts)
Round 4: Ch 3, dc in next st, *2 dc in 1 st, 2 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (48 sts)
*Round 5: Ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, *2 dc in 1 st, 3 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (60 sts)
*Round 6: Ch 3, dc in next 3 sts, *2 dc in 1 st, 4 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (72 sts)
Round 7: Ch 3, dc in each dc around, sl st to join.
With Black
Round 8: Ch 3, dc in each dc around, sl st to join.
With Bright Yellow
9-14: Ch 3, dc in each dc around, sl st to join.  Fasten off.

Eyes (Make 1)
With White
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 sc, sl st to join
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st, sl st to join (12 sts)
Round 3: Ch 1, *1 sc, 2 sc in next st **, rep *-**, sl st to join (18 sts)
Round 4: Ch 1, *2 sc, 2 sc in next st **, rep *-**, sl st to join  (24 sts). Fasten off.
With Grey
Round 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around, sl st to join (24 sts).  Fasten off with yarn length to stitch to hat. 

Pupil (Make 1)
With Brown
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 SC , slst to join. Fasten off with yarn length to stitch to white of eye.

Hair (Make 1)
With Black
Round 1: Chain 18 st.
Round 2: Hdc into 2nd chain from end.  Hdc 2 more times in same ch.  3 hdc in each chain to end. Fasten off.
Sew Pupil to Eye, and then sew Eye to hat.  Sew hair to top of hat.


Christmas is coming…..time to bake the cake.

P1010634I love Christmas!  I love the music, I love the decorations, I love the baking opportunities.  I’m not so crazy about the present business, but I do love getting together with the family and sharing good times!

By New Zealand’s standards, some might consider that I go a little bit over the top when it comes to Christmas, but I make no apologies….it’s just my thing!  And really you’d probably have to say that too if you also had a tree that you put nearly 500 lights on and decorated every inch of the house with tinsel.

When it comes to the baking opportunities, I go crazy!  The first thing that I make in preparation for Christmas is the cake.  I have done a bit of research, and worked out a few things that will help to make it a success:

  1. Buy a large air tight container to store your cake in before you bake it 🙂  You want a container that allows about 1 inch of space on the sides.
  2. Bake your cake in the morning.  It will take several hours to cool and you must leave it in the tin until cool, before wrapping and storing away.
  3. Most recipes say to soak the fruit over night.  This isn’t long enough.  It must be a minimum of 1 week.
  4. Drop your cake tin from about 1 foot above the kitchen floor just before you put it into the oven.  This helps to settle the mixture into the tin.
  5. If you are using a metal cake tin, fold numerous layers of newspaper or brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string (make sure it isn’t plastic string).  This will help to prevent the sides from burning.
  6. If you are baking a square cake, rotate about half way through baking to prevent the corners from burning.
  7. Christmas cakes are pretty forgiving.  If you’re like me and don’t like Glace cherries, just leave them out.  Alternatively, feel free to add different types of fruit.

One of the best investments I made for my Christmas cake was buying a Wooden Cake Box.  Check them out here.  This way you don’t have to worry about step 3 above.  Each size box comes with a fruit cake recipe that is perfect for that size of box.  I haven’t tried this specific recipe, but no doubt it is delicious!  Make sure to read the Baking Tips on the website about how to line the box.

Rich Fruit Christmas Cake


500gm currants
500gm Raisins
2 C sultanas
2 C chopped dates
150gm crystallized ginger, chopped
150gm mixed peel
150gm glace cherries, halved
2 T grated orange rind
½ C dark rum
½ C orange juice
¼ t almond essence
½ t vanilla essence
2 t grated lemon rind
1 C blanched almonds
2 ½ C plain flour
½ t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
½ ground nutmeg
1 t mixed spice
250gm butter
1 ½ brown sugar
2 T treacle
5 eggs

20131019_132628Week 1

  1. Put all the fruit in a saucepan. Add orange rind, rum and orange juice.  Cover.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and gently cook for 15 minutes to plump the fruit.
  3. Remove from the heat.  Transfer to an airtight container when cooled.
  4. Store in a dark cool place.

20131027_142129Week 2

  1. Sift flour, soda and spices into a bowl.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and treacle until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Fold in sifted ingredients, alternating with fruit mixture.
  5. Spoon mixture in a greased and lined 23cm square tin (or 25 cm round tin).
  6. Hold tin about 1 foot above the kitchen floor, and drop.
  7. Bake at 150oC for 4 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean when tested.  Leave in tin until cold.
  8.  Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in an airtight container.  Store in a cool place.

Weekly until 1 week before Christmas

Puncture a dozen or so holes evenly around the cake (e.g. with a chop stick).

  1. Pour 1-2 T brandy into the holes.

One Week before Christmas

Apply marzipan, as per packet’s instructions.  Leave to dry. 1-2 days before Christmas Apply royal icing, as per packet’s instructions.  Decorate.

Chocolate and Vanilla Spiral Cookies

T130hese little gems look very ‘posh’ and are really very easy to make.  This recipe was the first one I’d ever used with Dutch Processed cocoa.  You could use ‘normal’ cocoa, since Dutch processed is so expensive, but you won’t get the same color results.  If your kitchen is hot, I’d recommend popping them back in the fridge on the oven tray for 5-8 minutes to harden up a bit again.

You could also vary them with ¼ teaspoon of lemon extract, or maybe orange….hmmm, actually that sounds really good.  I might give that a go!

Oh, and PS:  it’s a bit messy when you kneed in the cocoa…….you’ve been warned…but it’s worth it!

Chocolate and Vanilla Spiral Cookies


227gm  butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg


  1. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, and salt.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half.
  4. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.
  5. Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 17cm squares, about 1.5 cm thick.
  6. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water.
  7. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place one of the layers on the plastic wrap. Brush with egg wash. Gently lay the other layer onto and press together.
  8. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic
  9. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.
  10. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet.
  11. Bake at 180oC for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Colourful Child’s Blanket

Caitlin Blanket 1In my last post I referred to a blanket that I was making (and knotting the yarns together).  I finished the blanket last night.  I think it’s a beautiful ‘girly’ blanket for the 12 year old girl that I’ve made it for.

It was also nice to make some thing that used simple stitches, and really was very easy to make, yet still looks wonderful.  I did ‘joosh’ up the two short edges with small granny squares and a simple but cute edge.

Caitlin Blanket Edging

Caitlin Blanket 2