Thursday, 2 December 2010

'Tis the Season......

For Snow!

I think we have about a foot of snow! (That's about 30cm in metric) - it is beautifully silent outside and warm and cosy inside.

It was Child  3's birthday yesterday and apparently having Snow on Your Birthday is the best thing EVER - even better than presents that have (plastic) screwdrivers in them!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Recipe books

Reading about some of Sue's delicious creations and cookbooks (particularly here ) it made me think about how many cookbooks I have.

I have finally counted them.

I have excluded pamphlet types such as " The Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce " cookbook (and the must have "Bero " cookbook for nostalgic purposes if nothing else)

I have 115.

That does not include the 31 cake decorating books I have (though I did include the pamphlet type in that total).

That's not too many right?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

I have quite a weakness for cinnamon and after trying and loving the Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake I decided to try her cinnamon rolls.

I printed off the recipe and saw that it served 8 - a little much perhaps as there are 5 of us but I took the view that everyone would happily eat a bit more later in the day. So I followed the recipe to the letter- thought it looked quite a bit, but.........

Serves 8?

Serves 8 WHAT??????

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I have a confession - I have a fairly large stash of yarn. Some of it is nice yarn (think Kid Silk Haze, Regia Sock Yarn) but more of it is either Vintage (but not vintage enough..) or a bit " What was I Thinking?" yarn! I confess I cannot resist a bargain, though i am finally learning that I really should!

Anyway this leads me on to my granny shawl. I really wanted to join in the Attic 24 Granny Stripe Blanket crochet-a-long going on in the Ravelry Group, but my stash glowered at me, and in truth, I could not justify spending more money on yarn.

I have 2 balls of Sirdo YoYo in Caramel (comes into the "What was I thinking?" category in case you hadn't already guessed - actually I was thinking of the Ten stitch spiral blanket, but I digress) so I decided that I would use that to make one of the many half granny shawls I have seen on Ravelry.

  And actually it was quite nice to crochet - no stitch definition but I think it has turned out rather well, it was interesting to see how the stripes became much more pronounced as the shawl got larger. It didn't quite use up one ball, and amazingly I came across no knots - surprising in a 400g ball of yarn.

However I could not restrain myself any longer with Yarn buying. I have wanted to make this blanket for a while.

The down side was whenever I considered quite how many balls of yarn I would have to buy in order to get enough different colours for the centres meant it was just too costly. (Unfortunately having a very large proportion of "What was I thinking" yarn in your stash does tend to mean that there is not a lot of solid coloured DK yarn  - with or without natural fibre content)

Then whilst wasting lots of time researching on the Internet, I discovered that country Crafts sell mixed packs of DK  oddments. So I ordered five (differently coloured) packs.
 Each pack totals approximately 100g and I should need about 400g - so I am hoping there will be enough. I'm not planning on using the fairly flourescent green or orange ballettes though......

Yes it is acrylic - but I have three children aged 10 and under - I am positive that it will spend at least some of its time in the washing machine.

However - don't hold your breath, based upon current progress (the shawl was an abberration) it should take - ooo - about 3 years to finish.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Holidays - been and gone

Well I started writing a post at the beginning of August and here we are well in to September without it being finished! So I shall be brief.....
First we had a trip to Wales in the caravan - Pembrokeshire where we stayed on a wonderful Caravan Club CL site at Newton East Farm. It has very little facilities, but oodles of space, peace and quiet.

It's also not too far from our favourite beach - Newgale - lifeguards, clean toilets, cheap parking (£2 for the whole day!) a lovely cafe to buy cups of tea to bring back down to the beach. Even when it's busy it feels as though there is hardly anyone there

So there was lots of this

And I even managed a bit of crochet on the beach too! (It is finished but I can't seem to find a photo of the completed object - I will try in the next post)

We had some time at home meeting up with friends and catching up. I went to work for a week in the middle (boo!) and then we had a trip to Norfolk, where the weather was interesting for much of the time. This time we stayed on  a Camping and Caravanning Club CS - Brickyard Farm. This was a smaller site than the first one, but level,  taking caravans and tents with access to 2 loos and a shower. The new owners have only been there 4 months and have already done lots of work to the cottages. To be honest, we didn't enjoy this site as much. We paid extra because of the facilites, and they weren't that great - clean but very tired. The owners have been working flat out on the complex in a very short period of time, so I am sure that they will refurbish the loos and showers too.

We also travelled up to visit my parents (who live on the Durham/Yorkshire Border) at the Bank Holiday. This time, oddly, we didn't do very much though we did attempt to climb Roseberry Topping.

Now I must stress that normally Roseberry Topping is a straightforward walk - easily achievable for even our 3 year old. This time we abandonded the walk before reaching the top - the wind was fiercesome! We had to console ourselves with heading back into Great Ayton for a cup of tea.

Friday, 16 July 2010


Amazing stuff Lego - I have fond memories of building garish multicoloured models from it into my teens (tasteful they weren't but then you had to go by the block size you needed/wanted colour sadly did not enter into the equation)

So fast forward to today - eldest child has an impressive array of lego models(from the power miners range to be exact. You didn't know they do ranges now? Yes - exclusive models, time limited runs as well it seems - Lego has definitely moved on!)

Youngest child also likes this lego - but being only 3 1/2 the inevitable has happened.....

Looks fine doesn't it? Sadly not - after being put back together there are 2 orange based flame thingies (I have no idea what they should be called!) missing. O has been no help in trying to locate them and the entire house has been turned upside down looking for them - it looks even more like we've been burgaled than normal.

Meltdown is in progress (from all 3!) and I am hiding. Here. Somebody let me know when it is safe to come out please?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Cardamom bread

A little baking this weekend courtesey of Rachel Allen - I decided to try her Cardamom Bread . Cardamom  is a spice I associate with using in curries, but am aware that scandanavian countries use it quite a lot as a "sweet" spice.

Now I must confess to being a cinnamon addict - give me a cinnamon bun and I am ecstatic. I have also managed to turn my children into cinnamon lovers too (still can't get them to love Spring Greens in the same way, but give me time...). The only thing better is homemade gingerbread.

However I forced myself not to substitute the cardamom for cinnamon - and it was very nice, with quite a subtle flavour. And I even plaited it too!

But I have a confession - I still like cinnamom better! Could be trying out snickerdoodles next..

Friday, 9 July 2010


Still hot - the grass is dry and parched and I have a perfect excuse for not weeding - the ground is rock hard and I can't get them out!

Sadly the Fridge Freezer is STILL not fixed (I am not happy and I will not be using these repairers again) and without a repair date in sight!

On a lighter note I spent a lovely long weekend with friends at the Cotswold Water Park last weekend. Weather was mostly fabulous and it we had a lovely chilled time. We had rented a 5 bedroom house for the weekend - complete with hot tub in the garden. We did do some cycling and a little (very little) walking.

I have been attempting some bag making recently, but it has taken ages due to my sewing machine being extremely temperamental!

So I started with this:

And for a long time didn't get much further as I could only sew about 5cm before it all became a hideous mess of threads. I finally bit the bullet and called in Sewing Machine Service/Repairs man . Turns out that the upper and bottom tension parts have never worked quite right and needed adjusting. And all these years I thought it was me being a poor sewer!(Well it might still be, but at least the machine is working beautifully now)

Anyway I have eventually finished my Buttercup Bag. It looks very pretty, but I think would be better with a heavier fabric.
 It was quite hard to show the inside (it is not creased despite appearances), but these fabrics work beautifully together - I only wish I knew what they were!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ice cream cupcakes

A bit of baking was called for at the weekend - ice cream is in short supply in our house due to the fridge freezer going on strike - so I made the next best thing - ice cream cupcakes! (Ok well, not quite the next best thing given the heat, but still pretty darn good).

I recently got the book "Eat Me" by Cookie Girl (Xanthe Milton) and have wanted to make them ever since. Cleverly you wrap the outside of the cones in foil to keep them from falling over (and to stop them burning I suspect)
The cake mixture is a slight variation on a Victoria Sponge - I scraped every last drop out of the bowl and really thought that I did not have enough mixture. The cakes rose magnificiently however and even overflowed on a few.

Sadly I only had golden icing sugar for the buttercream which does detract from the true Mr Whippy look, but still looks good. (O in true 3 year old style ate the flake, the icing AND the cornet but left the cake.....) Am now wondering about making them with a scoop of ice cream on top at the last minute instead of buttercream........ mmm - wonder if I could bake chocolate brownie (or a blondie!) in them, and serve them warm with the ice cream on top as a pudding?

Friday, 21 May 2010


No pictures - no time despite the glorious sunshine and heat. We're off to Italy - with three excited small(er) people!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Wealden Quilt Show 2010

Hmm - well back to Work and a windy weekend in Rye have meant I haven't got round to blogging at all (I know start blogging and fall at the first hurdle!)

Anyway, I really wanted to show you some pictures of the Wealden Quilt show that I visited a couple of weeks ago. Some amazing pieces - all very different and quite inspirational. What I particularly loved was when there were suprise details on the backs, which had been equally thought out - a bit like a secret for the quilt's owner.

I'm afraid I foolishly didn't take notes of the names of the quilts and who made them, but thought I would share a few of my favourites (and there were more which I also loved, but I have to stop somewhere)

This was stunning - my photograph doesn't do it justice - it looks a little pink in the photo, but trust me it wasn't - it was very red, gorgeously so. Beautifully crafted and freehand machine quilted.

This one was really hard to photograph as it was in a sort of small alcove. Very soft, with some delicious tactile details, and I loved the subtle punch of colour on the ladybirds.

Gorgeous fabric choice on this sampler quilt. 1930's style fabrics are very popular right now and this was a lovely example of it - the other sampler quilts were much in much stronger and bolder colourways and had a very different feel.

And here is a close up of the Dresden Plate block

This one is all about the fabulous quilting - it reminded me so much of Durham Quilting - the plain fabric and then the lovely quilting patterns, The blocks were stitched together with subtle decorative stitching. The detail is really hard to see in the full shot.
And I now have an urge to make a Dinosaur Blanket..........

I could probably persuade the 3 year old he would like one, but unfortunately although I am a very good project starter I am an appalling project finisher! The question would be whether I would finish it before he left home?

Hopefully my next post will show a finished object - but it needs to wait until my sewing machine has been serviced on Monday (I have tried sewing on it, but the timing seems to be off and the resulting stitching makes a plate of spaghetti look orderly)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Sourdough (Pt3)

Well, strictly speaking it could be part 4 as I did feed and nurture it for a third day as instructed.
was looking much better by this morning- frothing nicely and had a pleasant smell - yeasty and slightly sour.

So I turned it into a stiffer batter, let it rise again for a few hours, took out a few tablespoons and then turned it into a nice bread dough - shaped, proved and baked it and here it is!

It is a nicely risen loaf - but (and there had to be one) it isn't sourdough. I did wonder as it rose quite a lot and in a fairly short space of time when I put the shaped loaf to prove. It is soft and tender within - no holes and that particular chewy texture - and most definite of all - not sour (there might be a slight tang but believe me it is slight).

I will keep the remaining starter and see if I can't get it to sour up a bit - after all it is a huge improvement on my first ever attempt where the starter end up foul smelling, a weird colour and in the bin.

The macaroons we made today were much better - however with 3 children on school holidays there aren't any left around to photograph!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Sourdough (Pt 2)


Not exactly frothing is it?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sourdough (Pt 1)

This is my second attempt at a sourdough starter - the first we will draw a veil over (it was an umitigated disaster quite some time ago).

I have been inspired to try again by The River Cottage Family Cookbook which we I recently acquired. So with a little time in hand I got my ingredients together. Though I should confess that I forgot the orange until I was mixing....

The recipe intrigued me as it uses orange juice in the first stage - I also love this book as it explains a bit more about the process and the reason for using certain ingredients (such as organic flour and mineral water). 

So I mixed and ended up with this which needs to be left in a warm place for 24 hours.

I'll just have to wait and see if it is more successful than my last attempt. (I should confess though, that to be on the safe side, I followed Hugh's slightly cheaty instructions and added a pinch of dried yeast to the inital mix.....)

Monday, 12 April 2010


Suddenly it's here!

The buds on the camellia have suddenly burst into flower - we're lucky that they last quite a while as the bush is in a shady spot.

It is finally dry enough for A and his Dad to dig over the allotment and rotovate it. Well, probably not quite, but we really can't leave it any longer. In doing so they discovered this!

A poor lone little leek that actually grew - it will join the many other leeks from the weekly Veg box that I still haven't managed to use up (and I have used a lot!)

And the children? Well it is finally nice enough to go out in the garden and play! The current favourite is scooting - the joys of a new level patio and paths with no more steps; luckily O doesn't mind that he's always lagging behind - provided he gets a turn on his big brother's scooter every now and then.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Happy (Belated) Easter!

Funny thing blogging - a bit like having to stand up and give a speech - or going to the gym- it's the starting that seems so hard - once you're in the flow I am sure it is easy.......

Been having a lovely Easter break - both A and I have this week off work, the kids aren't at school and the weather is finally getting better - though I think it might have benefitted from some therapy on Sunday. We went for a bike ride with some friends - started ok - turned to hail then the sun came out and we were able to sit out in a pub garden enjoying liquid refreshment before it rained!

There has been a lot of Easter Baking - my simnel cake though was slightly overtoasted at the edges and some of the apostles tried to make a break for it whilst the top was supposed to be burnishing in the oven. It has turned out ok - but definitely not a blog worthy picture. M made some traditional easter cakes (chocolate shredded wheat nests with mini eggs of course!) and B has made some chocolate cup cakes with flake nests and mini eggs on top. O had the important job of placing the mini eggs both times and resisted eating any until we had finished (unlike me....)

Hope you all had a good Easter break - I'm loving the fact that it feels as though Spring is finally here this year