Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas 2011 Deccies

Just to share with you, a few of our decorations for the festive period.

These are the hearts that I made last Christmas

Another heart and mini mittens I received in a swap a while back

Two mini stockings I did at Avril's Christmas Project Day
Left to right - my stocking, HK's and Mary-Jane's.  I did think about doing a stocking for Mary-Jane.  This thought remained a thought.

The spirally things I did last year, the bauble I did for this year

Rhinog's Christmas Stocking from Paula

Even Death got festive!  Death is a Discworld character, by the brilliant Terry Pratchett

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve, Jobs Un-Jobbed and A Late Settling To Sleep Mary-Jane

It is nearly ten o'clock, Christmas Eve.  Mary-Jane has only just settled.  This is so very unlike her indeed.  She has been crying on and off since I put her to bed. In the end HK suggested changing her PJ's.  One set of clean pj's (not that the others were dirty), a cuddle and back in bed and not a peek.  Her Pj's were quite loose fitting and we wondered whether she was getting  her legs and toes caught.  Fingers crossed she settles now.  Poor little mite, she will be shattered.

So, at this time of night, I am not turning to and going in the kitchen.  Eight pm was my cut off point.  I have already half prepared the trifle and marzipaned the second cake.  I was set to make mince pies, but I knew someone else in the house wanted to do them, so I stopped and left the kitchen free, clean and tidy.  After MJ was in bed (the first time!), HK and I had had our tea and washed the pots, the kitchen wasn't quite available for use.  I've not been able to do the jobs I wanted to do.  It's going to be hot tomorrow.  It's another case of 'fill in the gaps' . 

I had got things in my head of what I was going to write about tonight, they have all but vanished. 

HK and I decorated our living room this morning.  It is festooned with paper chains, cards and knitted decorations.  I was going to take photos, perhaps tomorrow!  I have put our stockings up on the fire place.  This is not a real fire place.  It was.  It got covered over with a plasterboard and a wooden fire place surround put on it.  Not by us. None the less, our stockings are up and I have put a couple of little presents in HK's and Mary-Jane's stocking.  We wrapped the presents last night and HK will bring them down in the morning whilst I se to Mary-Jane. 

I'm off to bed.  Goodnight and I hope you all have a very merry christmas time, whatever or however you celebrate! xxxxxx

Thursday, 22 December 2011

I Knit To Keep Sane - Part 1

Today has been very noisy.  Too noisy for my liking, however I have to put up with it.  Noise levels are being tried to be kept to a minimum most of the time and there is generally consideration.  Me, I'm just not used to the noise and find it hard to take.  There are six dogs in the house, one is my Rhinog.  I'll let you fill in the gaps!

I was treated to an early Christmas present today from my sister.  She treated me to a 20 minute session with some Garra Rafa fish.  You put your feet in a tank of water with these fish in and they suck your feet.  They like the dry skin.  They are about 2" long and there were about two dozen of them in the tank.  It tickled and tickled and tickled.  I giggled and giggled and giggled!  I loved it.  I'd love to go again and have more sessions and get my feet sorted.  I could feel the benefit as soon as I stood up and started walking.  So I'd recommend it, especially if you suffer with dry skin on your feet, as I do.

As my karma was being challenged today (I'm being rather PC here), it had a knock on effect with my knitting.  I was going to carry on with Mary-Jane's Lulu skirt, but I don't have the motivation for that at the moment, I wanted to start something new.  I'm a bit clothed-out still and want a couple of evenings break from that.  I did think about starting an Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket.  I wanted the familiarity, I have done this pattern a fair few times.  My issue was that I needed bigger than the basic size and thought I would need to do the maths.  I will do the maths at some point.  It wasn't going to happen tonight, my head wasn't 'in the zone' for that.  By the time I'd settled, I couldn't even remember what yarn I was going to use.

I decided to start a 'Little Red Cape', designed by Erika Flory.  I already have the yarn for this.  Whilst I was rummaging down the side of the sofa, I came upon my ball of 'Loopy'.  It fitted my mental bill of what to knit tonight.  After a few rows, it no longer fitted the bill.  It is fairly straight forward to knit with, but I wanted something more straight forward.  I cast on the Cape, knitted and settled.  Jobs a good un!

I still want to make at least on of the dresses I was given the pattern for yesterday, and a thick hooded jumper.  I don't think I have the yarn, none springs to mind (for the dress).  As I type, I think that I must look through what I got from Freecycle, there maybe something in there.  It will be good to look anyway - just to remind myself what is there!  For the hooded jumper, I am thinking of using some James Brett 'Marble'.  I need to check tension and thickness of yarn etc.  Or see if I can match another pattern to the yarn.

I'm looking forward to using my stash more.  I'm very lucky to have it.  I would have gone nuts along time ago if I didn't have it.  I did have a random thought of starting a nice lacey shawl, for me.  Not quite yet.  I'll search for the right pattern and the right yarn and it will fit into place.

I have had a lot of knitty thoughts today.  It has helped keep me going.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Knitting Is Verily Completed!

My Christmas Knitting is completed.  I have made two hand towels and five cloths.  I did start a third towel in a plain green.  I was one row into it and the wall of 'I've had enough of Christmas Knitting' came upon me thick and fast.  I tried another row, just to make sure.  I knew I'd never finish it.  I frogged it there and then.

Here is my cloth set, which I rather do like.  All the patterns are free on Ravelry.  The top one is the penguin, the green and white is the candy cane, next to that is the christmas lace, rudolph in red and the angel in white. 

 I do like making cloths, no more for a short while though.  I needed a quick hit project and reached for this yarn.  M bought it me in Lidl (or was it Aldi? I get the two so mixed up) last week.  I started doing it as the ball band pattern, thought it was too wide, frogged it and started again with six stitches.  One pompom between every two stitches.  The eyelash type yarn does have a small amount of black in it and this gives it a bit of shine.  Very Seasonal.
I now need to plan my next project.  I want to do some more cloths for someone.  I've picked out the yarn, just need to pick the patterns.  Today I was kindly given a file with knitting patterns for Mary-Jane, from LA.  There are some scrumptious patterns.  One in particular has caught my eye, stash surfing will ensue to see if I have something to match the stated yarn!  I suppose I really ought to finish her skirt that I started.  It will look nice on her.  That is decided then - Mary-Jane's skirt and the aforementioned cloths are my next projects.  That gives me time to think of the next one - and go stash surfing!

LA also lent me the Knit & Chat's crochet file.  There are a few things in there that I would like to make.  I feel some Crochet Master Classes will be bartered for in the New Year!

GIngerbread House

Last year, HK and I wanted to start a new Chrimbo Tradition of having a Gingerbread House.  What with last christmas being what it was, I didn't have the heart to do one.  I have this year.  I have never done one before.  I had two methods of doing it - cutters or silicone moulds.  I chose the moulds as they had more detail.  I will adjust the recipe (maybe) for the gingerbread, it is very thick - perhaps 3/4".  What I had in mind was more like the thickness and texture of a gingerbread man, per se.

I had a spare board and used that one.  Next time I'll use a bigger one by at least two or three inches.  I stuck the pieces together using royal/regal icing.  I don't know if there is a specific difference between royal and regal icing.  I used icing sugar and the white of an egg and a bit of tartar powder.

I used tins to support the sides and roof of the house whilst the icing was setting

You can see the detail of the moulds

I had fun decorating the house.  I used more royal icing to 'glue' all the sweeties in place.
I put shiny sprinklies all over it, plus a few snowflakes like I did with the Christmas Cup Cakes.

I'm quite pleased how it turned out.  I did want to make a path up to the front door and perhaps a couple of mini gingerbread men and trees on the board, but space wouldn't allow.  Next time I may even put sweeties in the house. 

Christmas Party At Fobbles & Christmas Cupcake Recipe

Saturday was the Fobbles Christmas Party.  Those ladies who needed to travel from Yorkshire and Lancashire stayed at home due to the weather.  I enjoyed the day, it was good to get out of the house, sit and knit and chat to others.  I watched D do some beading.  I've never seen beading being done before.  It looked quite interesting.  Needless to say it's now on my list of 'Things To Try'!  I haven't a clue on technique, so I may have to look into this.  It doesn't seem an overly expensive thing to try.  I shall see.  I knitted a cloth.

I was able to do some baking the evening before and made some Christmas Cup Cakes.  I've had this recipe since the summer and decided to wait till Christmas time to make them.  They are absolutely delicious, I must admit!  Recipe to follow - this one comes highly recommended!

 I decorated the tops with frosting, then added white stars and sparkly sprinkles
 Whilst all that was baking and doing, I knocked up a lemon drizzle cake - very moist.  I did have help from Betty Crocker for this one........

Christmas Cup Cakes

Makes 12-16 - I managed 17
300g mixed dried fruit
100ml rum
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g soft dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
160g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
60g ground almonds

For the frosting
500g icing sugar (confectioners I think is the US term)
160g unsalted butter, softened
50ml whole milk
1/2 tsp almond essence
decorations, sprinkles of your choice

Place the dried fruit in a bowl with the rum, leave to soak for at least 30 minutes

Preheat to oven to 190c, gas mark 5

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time

Sift together flour, baking powder and mixed spice.  Add to creamed mixture. Mix until everything is incorporated.  Add the ground almonds and soaked fruit, mix until all is combined.

Fill cupcake cases 2/3rds.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cupcakes have risen and spring back when touched

Frosting:  whisk icing sugar with butter until fully combined and texture is powdery.  Gradually add the milk, whisk until light and fluffy.  Add the almond essence and mix until well incorporated.

Spoon the frosting onto cold cupcakes and decorate to your liking.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Still Tired!

I am a day or two behind with my blogging.  I have photos and stories, but I also have a strong urge to go to bed.  I'll speak with you tomorrow!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The First Snow

We've finally had some snow yesterday.  When I got up there was only a light frost, within less than half an hour, a blanket of snow with more on the way.  Once I got Mary-Jane down stairs and handed her over to HK and her milk, I grabbed my camera and went outside.  The snow on the lower ground is virtually gone.  The fells tell a different story.

This is the view from the corner of the house near what we use as the front door

My footsteps going down the drive

The main road, going towards Calder Bridge

The garden
Mary-Jane's swing

Part of the garden and the barn in the background
The house from the back.  Mine and HK's window is the far upper right.  I like this picture

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Tonight I am tired, so I won't be long.  I have spent all afternoon shopping, with M, far longer than what I wanted.  HK is not happy that I was out so long.   I missed Mary-Jane even having her tea and putting her to bed.  However she did awaken around 9pm, so I got in a cuddle.

I have managed to get her a present that I wanted to get her.  This is actually from her Auntie AnnInAmerica.  Grandma has spoiled her rotten with gifts and I have had a few too.  I have all the sweeties to make a Gingerbread House - I even managed to find some Candy Canes, although they are bigger than I originally had in mind.  I shall incorporate them some how!

I have finished my green and white candy cane cloth and started on another Cloverlaine design of a snowman.  This has been slow going until I realised how tired I was and have put it down for the evening.

The winds have dropped here and we had some winter sunshine.  I have written and posted all my Christmas Cards - I do have literally a couple more to send though. 

I'm going to bed now.  My mind is blank, other than thoughts of crawling into bed and lying down!  If I have missed telling you anything from today - I shall tell you tomorrow!! Goodnight xx

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

WI Baubles!

To keep in with the Christmas Knitting Theme, I decided to do this months WI Competition - a Christmas Bauble.  I decided last night on the pattern in last months 'Lets Knit!' and used some freebie yarn, I think from the same magazine.  I've not done any fair isle for a bit and was pleased to feel that I still found it straightforward and enjoyable to do.  Even on dpn's.  This was how far I'd got by the time bedtime arrived.  I didn't think I'd get it done today.  We were out most of the morning.  So when Mary-Jane went up for her afternoon nap, I got the needles out pronto and carried on till job done, which was about two and a half hours in total.

 The finished item!  I'd do more but they take a while to do.  I could do some smaller ones.  The would look nice.  I'm getting into Christmas Knitting. 
 I took it to the WI Meeting this evening and won second prize.  Lovely Jubbly!  I have the bauble hanging off the light shade in the living room.  Very Festive.

Following being nominated and seconded, I am now Secretary to Beckermet Womens Institute.  The Treasurer gave me a big welcoming hug, that was nice.  More stories getting ready for the telling there.  HK is very dubious about me taking on this role as he thinks I will be greatly put upon.  Time will tell.

As we had to go out this morning, I put Mary-Jane in her Reindeer outfit.  HK says that she'll get her own back on me one day.  I think she looks gorgeously cute!
How could anyone say she is not?!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The View From Irton Flats

The last Knitting Group of the year was today, at Woodlands.  Remember a month ago, I said I wish I had taken my camera?  I remembered it today.  It was blowing rather strong, so I didn't take as many as I hoped.  They are nearly panoramic views, the first few taken about half to a mile before the second half.  I've looked on the map and Scafell Pike may be among them.  Scafell Pike is the highes point in England.  Great Gable may be in there somewhere, whether you can see it or not, I really can't tell you.

 I'm stood on Irton Flats.  At Irton Church is a ninth century cross.  I've not been yet.  I want to take HK with me, as I know he will be interested.
 This is definitely Muncaster Fell.
 Somewhere between and beyond the farmhouse and Muncaster Fell is the Eskdale Valley.
 Muncaster Fell, with running sheep
 One of the nearer fells may be Middle Fell.
 The valley just left of centre is Wasdale
Beyond Eskdale, I'm not sure if it's classed as the far end of Eskdale or not, (more things to find out!) is the delightful Wrynose and Hardnott Pass.  There is a Roman Fort in the middle.  This is a very hairy pass, and not to be driven by the faint hearted.  I have not been over it for many years.  I want to, perhaps in the new year.  Some parts of it are 1:2!!!! but in the main, 1:3 and 1:4.  I shall look into this further.  I can't remember at the moment how to turn it into percentages.  I'll just stick with hairy for now.  Very Hairy.  Did I mention, sheer drop on one side in places?

Going back to churches, another church I want to visit is Gosforth Church - St Mary's, which has a 14ft tall Viking Cross.  Another place I want to see, that's only a couple of miles from me.  I drovve past Gosforth to get where I was going today.  Time to get my finger out and get exploring all the wonders on my doorstep.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas Spirit Starting To Lurk

The Christmas Spirit is starting to sneak up on me and play peek-a-boo with me.  I bought few decorations into our room today, with a mind to put them up at some point during the day.  HK (humbug) said it was far too early to out decorations up.  I think he was pulling my leg, but I naturally pouted at him anyway.  I was going to put them up this evening, once Mary-Jane was in bed.  This evening has come and I'm a wee bit tired and just want to put my feet up and do a bit of knitting.  I didn't sleep well last night.  Rather it took me a few hours to drop off to sleep, which is very unlike me.  I used to joke that as soon as I was horizontal I would be asleep.  Years of shift work has taught me to do that - or is that years of being shattered when I get into bed?!

Anyhow.  I have started writing my Christmas Cards, I'm about two thirds done (I hope!).

We - MJ, HK & I went for a run out this afternoon.  We only went to Asda in Workington and got MJ some tights for the winter.  Now she is walking, I want to get her more into dresses again.  Whilst she was crawling, dresses just weren't practical.  Today she sported a red Tshirt and knitted leggins, (she will have hand knitted ones next winter, even if I don't get to do any this winter!) with a dark blue denim dungeree dress with a red cotton petticoat frill on the hem.  It was so lovely to see her in a dress, something a little more feminine for a change.

I have finished my Rudolph cloth and my penguin cloth (have I already mentioned that?).  I've cast on the candy cane cloth.  I'm doing this is P&C Emerald Frost.  Tomorrow is my Woodlands Knit & Natter.  Indulgence, I can't wait.  I must ensure that I have the projects I have completed this month with me, especially my crochet hat.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mary-Jane and Daddy Playing On The Floor

Mary-Jane loves it when Daddy plays on the floor with her.

 Mary-Jane loves it when Daddy 'throws' her in the air
 MJ will sometimes pull Daddy's t shirt up, stroke his tummy and say 'aaaah'!

 Playing with Daddy can be very tiring!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

My Brack Recipe

As you know, I made some Brack yesterday, and it was very nice.  I tried a slice this evening with some cheese.  I highly recommend it!!  Below is a generic recipe.

150ml Hot Tea (without the milk)
455g mixed dried fruit
175g demerara sugar
1 egg, beaten
225g self raising flour

Soak the mixed fruit in the tea over night or for 24 hours if you want.  Cover it with a tea towel, or preferably cling film.

Preheat the oven - gas mark 2/160 degrees c

Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin

Once soaked, add the egg, flour and sugar and mix until all is combined

Place the mix in the tin.  Bake for approx 1 - 1hr 20 mins.  Test with a skewer.

Turn out of tin when cool.

I recommend buttering it and having it with a slice of cheese on top!

Enjoy xxxx

My Christmas Cake

My Christmas Cake is decorated!  I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I've never decorated a cake anything like this before, but certainly will again.  The finished cake is very heavy.  The cake itself weighed 4lb 4oz.  I've not weighed the finished thing, I'm sure it will be a few pounds more than that!

I started by making marzipan sausage shapes around the outside of the top of the cake.  This is to help give it a flat surface.  The marzipan is then rolled out and placed on the cake, then smoothed with a smoother/polisher.  Next the red icing goes on.  After that is the white band around the base.

 Then the blue icing and finally the white and the iceberg in the middle.  After that is the welcome sitting down and modelling the person and the penguin.  I wanted them to look like they were having a Christmas Kiss.   The brown thing is supposed to be a fishing rod, and if you can look closely, you may see a fish or two poking their heads up through the hole in the ice!!  The fluffy bits are put on with an icing bag, using royal icing.  This icing uses dried egg whites to make it fluffy - another new thing to me.  Once all the pieces are made, they are stuck together using edible glue.
 Lastly I sprinkled two lots of shiny dusts, one violet and one diamond.  I prefer the violet.
 Looking at it now, I feel more confident to carry on with my sugarcraft, learn and improve!  I am looking forward to my new books arriving and to the start of next term, in January.  I have plenty of paste left over, so I can practice some more modelling, perhaps with a Christmas Theme!

Friday, 9 December 2011

MJ's New Hat & Rhinog's New Christmas Stocking

After Mary-Jane had her breakfast this morning, I was eager to get her to try on her new Winter Beanie and take some photos of her.  She didn't mind wearing the hat at all and was even happier when she heard and saw the camera coming out.  Big grins all round!  The hat could have done with a couple more stitches, maybe only three or four and being an inch or so longer in the body - notes for next time.

Here is Mary-Jane looking very pleased and happy - and the hat doesn't look too bad either!

 She just loves to grin!

 Whilst Mommy is busy taking photos of me, I shall play with her camera case.  I shall put my brick in it.  I like to put my bricks into all sorts of things, mainly bags and Mommy's shoes.

Remember a week or two ago, I entered a competition on my friends blog and asked you to read it?  Well I won the competition!  Rhinog now has his very own Christmas stocking to put along side ours.  The stocking was full of goodie treats for Rhinog as well!  He has had one, I shall try and save the rest for Christmas time, but I don't think I can be that good!  I'll try and take some better pictures.  I now have it hanging on the cupboard door our Living Room.  Paula also included a Christmas Present for me and Mary-Jane.  A huge big Thank You to Paula for her kindness and crochet skills xxxxxx
Please go look and read Pauls's blog - you'll have fun!

I have spent most of the evening preparing for my Cake Decorating Workshop tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to it (I know I've said that tons of times, but hey!)  I have tried to take things out of my barrow that I think I won't remotely need and thoroughly gone through the list of things I do.  Even down to the Gin.  No it's not going to be that gruesome a day that you're recommended to to take Gin to have a slug to steady your nerves!  Apparantly gin helps remove food paint/dye from where it shouldn't be.  I think.  I have made up 400g or modelling paste from 2/3 flower sugarpaste and 1/3 normal sugarpaste.  I've not done that before.  I've also dyed 1kg of sugarpaste red.  That took some doing.  Still cheaper than buying red sugarpaste from the shop.

I made a Yorkshire Brack this afternoon as well.  I've had two slices.  It is recommended to have it with some cheese, but I just couldn't be diddled to cut into a new block of cheese tonight.  Brack is similar to Tea Loaf.  It's quite filling, I must admit - and very scrummy!