Saturday, 27 February 2010

Oops - where has the time gone?

Goodness - I can't believe a whole month has passed since I last posted! Must get myself a bit more together!!

Back from our short visit to France. When we arrived and turned the water on we discovered a burst pipe and the water cascaded through the ceiling into the kitchen end of the all-in-one living room below. We had walked in to the property at 2300 and had to spend an hour with mop and bucket clearing up! The last thing I feel like after a twelve hour journey is major housework, but it had to be done. For the first two days we were without water upstairs which was inconvenient - to say the least. The house was also very cold. The upstairs was only 4 degrees which means that the beds and bedding is only 4 degrees as well. I always make two hot water bottles for each bed as soon as I can but in the winter we seem to have cold beds with a couple of warm patches. The solid stone walls are very good at retaining a temperature for a long time, and this serves us well tending to reduce the extremes of outside temperatures throughout the year. After the house has been empty for a while the walls can cool down or warm up too far, making it uncomfortable. We have noticed that after 2 or 3 weeks this improves, but for our short trip this didn't happen.

None the less we were able to replace the cracked concrete in front of the woodburner and finish it with slate floor tiles. Once we'd finished this we noticed the room was much warmer so we knew we had stopped the cold air coming up from the cellar. The weather wasn't good for gardening as the ground was frozen solid so for our next trip we shall have to make a good start on planting, weeding and mowing!!

Since we've been back home we have had a lot of fun with our new grandson. He is about 3 months old now - a contented little chap full of smiles.

I made him some navy blue bootees to match one of his outfits. This is a Debbie Bliss Patern knitted in baby cashmerino - a really nice yarn to work with. This is the second pair I have made to this pattern and they seem to fit well and stay on his feet.

Tomorrow I am going to London to the Stitch and Craft exhibition at Olympia. I'll let you know how we get on.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

We're off to our French house tomorrow. Just a quick visit to make sure everything is in order after the winter - although I'm not sure winter is over quite yet. I'm taking my knitting with me, so hopefully I shall be able to make some progress while we're away.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Knitting Milestone and Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Hurray!! At last I've finished knitting the jacket I have been making for myself. It's many years since I made anything for myself.

I now have to:

  • sew it up
  • wash it so that it drapes well
  • block it so the pleats are crisp
  • Make an icord for a button loop and find and attach a statement button.

The pattern was quite challenging. You start off by knitting a narrow band that goes up the centre back and then pick up stitches either side and knit sideways the back, the front and finishing with the sleeves. You then have to pick up stitches along the bottom to knit the peplum.

It will be a few days until it is finished, but hopefully it will look like this when it's done - but mauve, not green!

The kit to make this is by Hanne Falkenberg. I love her designs and hopefully, when I've got through my current 'to knit' list I shall make another one.

To celebrate I made a batch of cranberry and white chocolate cookies and invited a friend for a cup of tea. These cookies are a variation of the pistachio and almond cookies I made the other day.

You need -

  • 3 oz butter
  • 3 ox brown sugar
  • 3oz white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 6oz SR flour
  • 3oz white chocolate chunks
  • 3oz dried cranberries

Zizz sugars, butter and essence. Zizz in egg. Transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in flour and salt. Fold in white chocolate and cranberries.

Drop spoonfuls on to a baking tray and bake at 180 for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when they are golden brown.

Cool and store in an airtight tin.

If you don't have a food processor you can cream the butter, sugar and essence in a bowl.

Friday, 5 February 2010


This morning I met a friend for coffee and Flowerland - a local garden centre. We spent about an hour chatting over our coffee and then went for a look round. This garden centre is full of wonderful bits and bobs. I found these little mice and they jumped into my basket - only £3.99 for the pair.

Aren't they adorable? I need to find names for them and they'll need to begin with M.... Any ideas?

I'm still plodding on with knitting my jacket - if I can do just 5 rows a day I should finish by Tuesday. 5 rows doesn't sound a lot but there are 445 stitches on the needle so each row takes around 20 minutes! At least with the new Knit Pro needle I spend less time fighting the twists in the cord. I'll post a photo when it's done.....

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Primula and Almond and Pistachio Cookies

Well, it's another grey day today! A quick peep of sunshine would cheer us all up now, wouldn't it? We went down to the garden centre this morning. Flowerland is just wonderful. As soon as you get through the entrance you are greeted with the mixed fragrances from the scented candles, bath bombs, hand made soaps, etc. It's all so pretty and enticing its almost impossible not to treat yourself (I guess that's the idea!). I bought four bath bombs so I could bring some of the scents home! Once you move through to the conservatory and beyond the eyes can feast on all the brightly coloured plants. I bought half a dozen primula plants for the window box under the dining room window. The pots and window boxes are all looking so sad after the snow and cold weather.

They really all need refreshing but I need to take things a bit slowly as I have been all but housebound over the past couple of weeks with horrendous back pain. I don't want to rush at jobs and make it worse again.

Having treated myself to the bath bombs and the plants, and bearing in mind things generally come in threes (or so they say), I decided a third treat was a must. What to have? I settled on almond and pistachio cookies. If you've not tried these, you really should......

You need -
  • 3 oz Butter
  • 3 oz Granulated Sugar
  • 3 oz Brown Sugar
  • 1 Capful Almond Essence
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz SR Flour
  • 6 oz Mixed Pistachios and Flaked Almonds

Zizz butter, sugars and essence in processor. Zizz in egg. Transfer to mixing bowl. Fold in flour and nuts.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture on a baking sheet (I always line with baking parchment) and bake at 180 for around 10 minutes Keep an eye on them and remove form the oven when they are golden brown.

If you don't have a food processor just cream the butter, sugars and essence and then beat in the egg. I'm sorry I don't know the gas setting. I've always been an electric person!!

Cool and store in an air tight tin.

I love these cake tins from M&S. I love the chickens. They are really bright and make me smile every time I see them!!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Knit Pro Needles......

For some while now I have been lusting over the sets of Knit Pro needles - you know - you get several pairs of needle ends in different sizes and several cords, so you can mix and match to make circular needles of different size needles and different length cords. Having been extra Scrooge-like this month I felt justified in treating myself. Looking on the net for prices I chose to order from Bicester Wools. Not only was their price good, but also they were highly recommended by one of the ladies in our WI.

This morning the package arrived; and for once the postman was early. Like a kid with a Christmas stocking I couldn't wait to open the envelope.....and wow I wasn't disappointed! I chose to get the needles from the symphonie range. These have a multicoloured marbled finish - a bit like the marbled paper you find in old books. I'd been a bit worried that coloured yarn might not be that easy to see against the coloured tips but I've been assured that this isn't a problem. Time will tell as later on I shall test them out..........

.......I've tried my new needles and they're brilliant! The old circular needle I've been using is annoying because the yarn catches on the join between the needle ends and the cord and the long plastic cord twists and gets in the way. The new cord is much softer and is much easier to use and the join between the cord and the tips is completely smooth. I'm one happy customer! Having criticised the old needle I dread to think how old it is. I inherited knitting needles from both my mother and my mother-in-law and they must have inherited some in their turn. I guess the old needle had seen some action. I wonder what stories old knitting needles would tell if they could speak.

This afternoon was the monthly meeting of our WI. Each month we have a competition that is judged by the speaker. We had been asked to take in something purple and I decided to take some cushion covers I made a couple of years ago. For the first time ever I won first prize!!! I feel ridiculously pleased with myself. Need to be brought back down to earth!!!!!!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

More Snow..........

Wow - the first day of February already! We woke up this morning to pure blue skies, sunshine .......... and a sprinkling of snow. As we live at the top of a hill it snows here while down in the town they just have rain. The cold weather just doesn't want to leave us this year.

We have been feeding the birds for some years now and at the moment they seem hungrier than ever. There are chaffinches. blackbirds and robins in the garden at the moment. I notice the male blackbirds and robins are getting quite aggressive now, so I guess they know spring is on its way!!!! The snowdrops are coming out as well - always a welcome sight.

It is my aim this year to get organised. In fact 'Organise' is my key word for 2010. Our son was married in October 2008, and our daughter in October last year. I feel as if now they are both settled in their own homes and are both happy, I can get on with my life. I was struck with the need to sort through all my cupboards and cubbyholes and recycle everything I don't use to make way for new projects. I started well but two weeks ago i was struck down with severe back pain that kept me virtually chair bound. At last it's getting more manageable and I can slowly pick up where I left off.

In the mean time I can knit and sew a bit and have made a jacket and bootees for our number two grandson. The desire to organise has spread to my hobbies as well as the house and I have a list of things to be finished. I am currently working on a Hanne Falkenburg jacket. I've not much more to do so aim to have it completed by next weekend.