Sunday, 30 September 2012

Pinwheel Sweater Comleted

I finished Mary-Jane's Pinwheel Sweater this afternoon.  I was almost glad to get it done.  I am wanting to see what it looks like on Mary-Jane but each time I go near her with it, she gets cranky.  I am trying to ignore the rising feeling that she doesn't like it and that I will probably never see her in it!  I will have my way!
We have had another relaxing day.  This morning we braved the wind and the rain and went to Aldi in Whitehaven.  I had seen some yarn on their website that I thought might do for MJ.  They have had this yarn in before.  I got two balls of orange with white and flashed of pink.  Granma got her some turquiose chunky yarn for me to make her something.  I found a pattern called 'Pettite Panache' by Meghan Jones, via Ravelry.  I am on the 4th row and am wondering if the yarn may not totally suit the pattern.  I will persevere as it will look good anyway.  Hopefully.
No baking today.  I am getting over my mental apple block.  I'm sure by the end of the week I should be cheerfully be able to tell you that I have been baking cupcakes again.  I am still pondering on making some more chutney.  If I do I know I shall have to get rid of some, as I will have vast surplus.  I feel that I will probably end up making some anyway.  Unless I distract myself with other things.
Not too busy a week coming up.  Mary-Jane is going to back to Playgroup Tuesday morning.  Sugarcraft on Tuesday evening, sugarcraft guild Wednesday evening.  Fobbles has a get together on Thursday, I can't see me doing anything more than popping in, rather than staying.  HK has an appointment Wednesday and Friday.  Another Macmillan Coffee Morning Saturday, and maybe a table top sale Saturday afternoon.  So where do I get the idea that this week is 'not too busy'?!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Coffee Mornings, Libraries and The Beach

More busy days.  Thursday evening I went to the CCFWI Autumn Council Meeting in Wigton.  Part of the entertainment was Staged Right, a youth theatre group from Carlisle.  They were aged between 12-18 and were outstandingly good!
Friday Morning, I took Mary-Jane to a Macmillan Coffee Morning at Gosforth Library.  I met up with a couple of friends.  The coffee morning was so busy that we couldn't stay the whole time.  However, Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed being there and looking at the books.  She wasn't bothered by the hum of the chatter or that the room was full.  We came out of there and called in at Gosforth Bakery on the way back to the car.  In the car park was a school group of 16 ish year olds, on a field trip.   Mary-Jane was very taken up with this group and was crying and pulling to go over to them and join them. 
Come afternoon, Mary-Jane was restless and wanted to go back to the Library and 'be with everyone'.
She wasn't settling much.  I was sat on the sofa.  I asked her if she would like to go to the seaside and have an ice cream.  I had barely drawn my next breathe when she put her wellies on my lap and was very excited!  Off we went again to St Bees.  The cafe were also holding a Macmillan Coffee Morning.  After ice cream, we went down onto the beach.  The tide was out, so Mary-Jane had lots of beach to run around on.

When Daddy is not around, I'm teaching her all about puddles, and jumping and splashing in them.  Wering wellies of course!
This morning, I took Mary-Jane, with HK, back to Gosforth Library, to enrol MJ at the library.  She again enjoyed being there.  She has taken out three books.  She has a certificate saying that she has joined the Bookstart Bear Club.  This is now on her bedroom wall along side her certificate that she had from Beckermet Sports Day, when she won for dressing up as The Queen of Hearts.
We had a relaxing afternoon.  I was going to bake another cake, but Mary-Jane had other ideas of having big Mommy Cuddles.  So we all had a much needed realxing afternoon.  I even managed to have a few power naps and do a bit of knitting.  Mary-Jane bought me her bean bag over for me to put my feet on so 'Mommy put feet on bean bag and have a rest'!  I couldn't argue with that now could I?
Oh and I have also managed to fit in making seven jars of  Apple and Raisin Chutney, on Thursday afternoon.  Not surprising then, when I take a step or two back, that I am jiggered!
If the weather is not too unkind tomorrow, I shall take Mary-Jane to see the scarecrows at Drigg.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

No Chutney Today

We had a bit of a night with Mary-Jane last night.  Sleep was not on her agenda.  She did have some sleep, but was awake and screaming at least three times in the night.  We have all been tired today, I think tomorrow it will hit Mary-Jane. It usually takes a day or two for tiredness to catch up with her.  I had to be up early and in Whitehaven for an appointment at 9am.  I have heard her scream out only once this evening.  I listened with baited breathe, it was just a scream in her sleep.

Consequently I didn't get any chutney made.  HK and I thought it would be too much on top of lack of sleep, and that a restful day where I'm not chasing round or on the go too much would be in order.  And an early night, chances of which are slipping away.

I finished one sleeve on Mary-Jane's pinwheel sweater.  I didn't like it.  It looked too tight.  I frogged it back to the arm hole, decided to add some extra stitches and make it short sleeved.  I have now finished another sleeve.  I don't think I like this one either.  So much so tht I haven't started the second one - apart from picking up the stitches - until I have seen it on her.  I don't like the shape of the sleeve.  I have added the extra stitches on the under side of the sleeve, making it flared.  I can't think of the right word to describe it.

Our sky tv box is on the blink, increasingly so.  We are having an engineer out to us  on Friday morning.  Hopefully with a new sky box.  At the moment all my recorded programmes have disappeared.  They disappeared the other night,then re-appeared.  Hhmph.  There wasn't much on that grabbed my attention.  If we do have a new sky box, then I won't have recorded programmes to watch, which in turn lends itself to lace knitting as I have to have the TV Off and concentrate on what I am doing.  A long as I'm not too tired!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sugarcraft Week 2, More Apple Kitchen Adventures

This evening's sugarcraft subject was the start of the Bouvardia's.  These, we are assured, are the most tricky or difficult things to do in the whole project.  I was starting to get the hang of them towards the end of the session.  I have five more to do as homework for next week.  We have also been given a lesson plan, so we know what we are doing each week, plus any particular tools we may need.  I like the idea of this.  I was sat between two different people today.  I did observe that the two ladies I was sat between last week did not come this week..... Apparantly one has dropped out and one is going on a different night.  Could make me feel paranoid!  The lady to my right was chatty and I enjoyed nattering with her. 

Today'sBaking Offering is Apple Scones.  Quick to make.  You will notice that in the top right is all that is left of yesterdays Baking Offering, and even that disappeared shortly after the photo was taken!  If I think on, I'll do the recipe tomorrow for the scones.
Due to the amount of apples I've got, I've used this gadget for the first time.  It is an Apple Master - it peels, cores and slices apples (and pears and potatoes).  I was rather enamoured of it.  I could have quite easily sat and cored, peeled and sliced lots of apples with it.  I shall wait till tomorrow to do that, I plan to make chutney tomorrow.
This is what the apple looks like after being through the machine.  It takes a few seconds to do.  Lots of fun!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Chocolate, Apple and Rum Cake

I have a glut of apples.  I've have been looking in a few books as to what to do with them.  I am prefering to use them rather than freeze them at the moment.  I found a few recipes for cakes, tea breads, scones and chutneys.  The first thing I decided on was Chocolate, Apple and Rum Cake.  Very nice!  I was going to do some chutney, but didn't quite get to it as HK and I thought it would be good to go and do a bit of clothes shopping for Mary-Jane and get her some long sleeved T shirts and tops, not that Autumn is upon us with avengeance.  I have all my ingredients (I hope!) to do two different types of chutney, and a few other bits and bobs that will either keep or can be frozen.


Chocolate, Apple & Rum Cake

4 Apples
125ml rum

200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
125g chopped walnuts
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
200g self raising flour

3tbs dark rum
50g sugar
50 butter
  • Peel, core and cut apples into small pieces.  Cover and soak in the rum, set to one side
  • Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Mix in the eggs on at a time
  • In a seperate bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix together
  • Pour dry ingredients into the batter
  • Drain the apples using a sieve, add to mix and fold in
  • Pour into a greased and lined 26cm springform tin.  Smooth the surface
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for approx 45 minutes.  I baked for 40 mins
  • Leave in tin to cool, make holes in top with a skewer.
  • Put rum, butter and sugar in a pan, gently heat until butter melted and mix is starten to thicken.  Allow to cool a bit
  • Pour the topping mix slowly over the cake, allowing it to soak in through skewer holes.  I used a silicone pastry brush to spread the topping, worked well.
  • Once cake is cool, remove from tin and eat!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

St Bees Weekend II

We returned to St Bees again today.  The weather was still holding, not quite as nice as yesterday, but not a day to give up on.  This time HK stayed at home, his shoulder was much worse, with aching going down his back.  I have everything crossed that his sciatica, or whatever it was, doesn't flare up again.  Granma came with us today.  We went into the Cafe instead of sitting at one of the benches.

After more ice cream for Mary-Jane in the Cafe, we headed onto the beach.  The tide was out, I suspect it was on it's way back in.  Mary-Jane and I walked down the steps on to the beach.  Mary-Jane was thrilled to bits.  Once we got onto the sand, I said she could let go of my hand and go for a run, and off she went, squealing as she ran.  I don't think I'll ever grasp how exciting this is for her, to be on the beach, to run freely.  It can bring a tear to my eye to see her like this.

She was interested in the sand, and how she could kick it and leave marks in it.  St Bees Head is in the background.
She was fascinated by the sea and how it ebbed and flowed.  And how it might just touch her feet!
It was great fun to run away from the waves - she even said that that the sea was chasing her!

I love being by the sea, being on the beach, swimming, playing with the waves - and jumping them when the weather is warm!  I hope I can nurture her love for this environment as she gets older, and that we create many, many memories of being by water.

St Bees Weekend I

We have been blessed with reasonable weather this weekend.  A rarity at the moment.  Yesterday was better than today.  I was determined to make the most of it.  Saturday morning HK went into the garden to get busy.  I decided that the TV was going off and staying off for the day (hurray!)  In the morning Mary-Jane had free reign running around the house, as I started weighing out ingredients for the 2012 Christmas Cake.  Yes you read that right!  I am following the recipe of The Pink Whisk, aka Ruth Clemens.  I am doing her Jewelled Boozy Cake.  Mary-Jane wasn't overly interested in helping me weigh things.  Then it was time for a cuppa.  I thought we could stay outside with Daddy whilst we had tea.  HK was scraping the moss and debris off the driveway, straightening the hedge and then mowing and dtrimming the front lawn.  Mary-Jane decided she wanted to help and began sweeping up after Daddy and gennerally copying what he was doing.

This is my Jewelled Boozy Fruit soaking in rum, with a cinnamon stick.  I have used sultanas, glace cherries, mixed peel, cranberries, apricots, a tropical fruit mix and the grated rind of an orange and it's juice .  I have added some more rum today.
After lunch we headed down to Fobbles, for their Open Weekend, but mainly to see Di and return a book to her.  She kindly gave us a big bag of apples from her garden, some potatoes and a couple of cucumbers.  Lovely!

Then we headed off to St Bees for ice cream.  Mary-Jane has been asking to go to the seaside for ice cream for ages.  HK came with us as a last minute decision, probably something to do with me snapping at him and scowling. I should mention at this point that he pulled a muscle in his shoulder whilst out in the garden.  At St Bees, we all had a 99 flake.  We sat on the benches, near the play area.
Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed herself.  She was thrilled to be there, and to have an ice cream, followed by running around, as free as the wind.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Provisional Cast On Sussed

It's a bit late for a proper post, but had to share with you -

I have finished the Loopy Edging on Mary-Jane's Pinwheel Sweater, it looks blloming marvellous!

Provisional Cast On sussed - how simple and straight forward!  I am so glad that I am able to say that.  Tomorrow I shall get cracking with the actual knitting of the sleeves now that I have got all my live stitches!  Fab x

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Loopy Edge

I am on the next stage of Mary-Jane's Pinwheel Sweater - the Loopy Edging.  I have never done this before.  I have done I-cord countless times, but not as a cast off edge.  Wow, how easy and effective!  It is slow going, but after an hour or so I was starting to get a bit of a rhythm.  It has taken me two hours to do just over two sections of the sweater - perhaps around 90 stitches.  I started with 320 stitches, so a few evenings work.  Then it's the sleeves.  I bet I will feel like I am flying through those, once I have done this edging!

I started off by casting on 3 stitches, then knitting one stitch together with one from the main needle, three times altogether - for the three stitches I started with.  Then i-cord six rows and repeat knitting the next three stitches together with the three corresponding ones on the dpn.  Clear as mud?!  It is a lot easier to do than explain.  But what a pretty edging, and it can be done watching tv (as long as you don't have to concentrate too much - I was watching The British and the first episode of Criminal Minds.  And that was after I said to myself that I would have an enforced break from Criminal Minds, after watching it and nothing else, apart from the Great British Bake Off, for a couple of weeks.  Never mind, I made it for a couple of nights with out watching it.  I digress.)

I have now got all my ingredients together to soak my fruit for my 2012 Christmas Cake.  All apart from the alcohol.  That will be tomorrow's buy.  I'm thinking along the lines of a spiced dark rum.  I'm still up for some buttercream piping work on some cupcakes over the weekend.  I still need to do my sugarcraft homework.  I really ought to get into the habit of doing the homework as soon as possible after the class, so I am not streassing a few days later to get it done.  Remind me of this thought in the weeks to come!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Cake Cull and Piping Dreams

I was wanting to do some baking today.  HK, as kindly as he could, bluntly pointed out how much cake we have in the house to eat and adding to it was not really necessary.  I had to agree with him, sulkily with my bottom lip out.  In order to bake soon, in the next few days (like I haven't got enough on) I froze the marmalade cake - it would never get eaten before it went stale.  The Cider Loaf Cake went to the chooks.  To me it had a burnt taste, not that the cake itself was burnt, rather an ingredient in it was burnt.  More than likely the cider itself.  I shall not boil the cider next time, unless a good reason why is pointed out to me!  The Bread Pudding had been at the mercy of the Bread Pudding Fairies and there was very little left of it.  What was left I cut into quarters and HK and I had a piece each.  HK then asked why he'd got such a small piece.  There is now no Bread Pudding left.  I think I nibbled on the last piece of the lime and coconut, at least I had every intention of doing so, if I have not done so already.  Which leaves a bit of Lemon Cake and about an equal amount of Apricot Tea Bread.  Phew.  Cake Cull successful, I shall be baking again over the weekend.  Perhaps.
What I have been inspired to do is to have a go piping butter icing.  I saw photos earlier on Facebook of cupcakes done by Xanthe Milton - Cookie Girl, then was encouraged by my friend Lauran to have a go.  So I will.  I have a quantity of ready made buttercream that I bought a week or so a go that was on offer in one of the supermarkets.  As long as it is piping consisitency, then the experience will get underway. 
I also want to try dual colour piping.  I had some free bags with Cake Decorating Magazine, I was very excited.  That was short lived.  The bags were of poor quality and one was ripped.  I am tempted to look at Lakeland again for theirs.  On the other hand, I was given a tip of - put each colour icing in seperate bags then put both bags inside the main piping bag and pipe away.  The two colours wouldn't mix together and only meet as such, at the point of coming out of the nozzle.
I also want to try some Lemon Cupcakes, using Lemoncello (a creamy, thick, lemony alcoholic drink) as the liquid base in the fondant topping.  I have some lemons - and limes, and bananas that need using up.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sugarcraft Week 1

Sugarcraft classes have started again!  This term we are making a spray of daphne's, veronica's and bouvardia's.  It all looks very pretty.  I have homework to do for next week.  Not that it is set as homework, but I just know from experience that everyone else will have got theirs all done and ready for the next step. From next week as well, we should be given lesson plans for the term (hurray!) so that if we miss a week, we will know what we have missed.  It will give me some structure as to what to work towards.
This is what I have done tonight.

The class is very full - 21 people.  It was originally designed for 12-15 people.  Sugarcraft and cake decorating are very popular at the moment!  I couldn't believe all the new faces rolling in.  Tsk!  I'm never very good with change!
Tonight I have learned how to make texture with tweezers, and to do the two different shapes above, as well as the another bud shape that is my 'homework'.  I am looking forward to learning to do more things and creating gorgeous things.  I am not as anxious or nervous as last year.  Which just leaves the tiredness to combat.  Happy Happy!  Till next week - Nanoo Nanoo ;-)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Mary-Jane's First Go At Rolling Pastry

Another first yesterday!  I was making a quiche, rolling out the pastry - bought pastry, I'm not very good with pastry.  Mary-Jane was having a run around.  I asked her if she wanted to help.  She was straight in, enjoying and learning.  It was her first go at rolling anything out.  A precious few moments.

She soon got the hang of it, but thought the flour dredger was more fun - a more instant thing!
I shall get my little assistant to help me more in the kitchen.  She loves being in the kitchen, and the garden.

HK and I took Mary-Jane for her two year check up today with the Community Nursery Nurse.  She was very happy with Mary-Jane's progress, and said her speach was 'absolutely excellent'!  She is tall and in proportion.  I am so proud of her.
We also went into the tat shop in Egremont.  I found a childs pink dressing table with chair, half price - £3.  Needless to say it is in the back of the car, waiting for a wipe down and for me to make some space in MJ's room.  I have started a mass clear out of MJ's things.  Gone are all clothes that don't fit her anymore - three big black bin liners full were taken to the tat shop. I still have equipment to go through.  And toys.  I have been trying to put that one off, but we have so little space, and this is getting smaller, that practicalities mean that we must.  I don't think I will be overly ruthless, but the amount of toys she has is huge.
I also had a good find in the shop, a book - Sarah Don's The Art of Shetland Lace.  There is some gorgeous things in there.
Sugarcraft Classes start again tomorrow evening.  I need to soort everything out and re-fill my barrow with all the stuff needed.  That will get me in the mood for things even more!  Also tomorrow afternoon, I am meeting up with friends to celebrate a birthday, a busy day in store.  I am looking forward to some relaxing days, after last week, I'm jiggered!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

WI & The Egremont Crab Fair

 I got down into Egremont just after half eight this morning.  I was there in good time to help set up the WI Stall.  I was able to set out my knitted stuff at one end of the table.  I took quite a few bits and they all went out on the stall.


 The stall was quite full and apparantly we did quite well overall!  I had plenty of cake left over.  It could've been sold many times over but as I went back to the house at 10.30, the other ladies didn't know whether I wanted the left over cake or was happy to have it sold.  I wouldn't have minded in the least it being sold.  I have texted a couple of people to see of they want cake, and some has gone around to a friends house already.  Some more will be going on Monday.  That which is not eaten will be frozen and may be re-homed on Wednesday or Thursday.


In the afternoon we (the three ladies discreetly hidden in the image!) had a meeting with another lady on WI business.  We have come up with some exciting plans, which I must keep under wraps until draft ideas have gone to the Board of Trustees.  It is something that I want to be a part of.

I am now pooped.  I have been up since 5AM (as was Daddy, as was Mary-Jane).  Not only has it been a very busy day, it has been a very busy week.  I am looking forward to having a relaxing day tomorrow and if the weather isn't too bad, I shall take Mary-Jane out, probably to St Bees for an ice cream.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bake-athon Successful

My Baking Challenge is over, for today.  I successfully completed the challenge.  If I had remebered to trun the oven down 15 degrees when putting the second lot of cakes in and put the sugar glazes on when the cakes were warm, I would say I romped home with effort to spare.  I am very pleased with my handiwork.  I have resisted temptation to cut slices off and taste test them.  Perhaps I will get a chance tomorrow.  There is not point worrying about them now, if they are too dry etc, there is nothing I can do to change that now!

I made, from top right - Coconut & Lime Cake, Lemon Soaked Cake, Apricot Tea Bread, Marmalade Cake and Cider Loaf Cake.  All the recipes are taken from 'Cumbria (Cumberland) WI Cookery Book'.

A close up of the Apricot Tea Bread, withe the Lemon Soaked Cake and Coconut Lime Cake in the background.

I didn't particularly get stressed at all today - I usually do at some point, making the neutral zone around me get ever so slightly bigger!  I could feel my feet and back aching.  I couldn't have done any of this without HK and Mary-Jane's help either, for letting me crack on and do.  I did try to get MJ to help me measure some ingredients, but she was more interested in having a runaround.  I did give her due warning when I was going to use the mixer, telling her that Mommy was going to be noisy.  She even asked me a few times If I had finished being noisy!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

WI And Baking Week

This has  been- is -  a busy week for me.  Monday night was WI Committee Meeting, Tuesday I was due to drive Dad in the evening, but didn't have to at the last minute.  Wednesday I baked two batches of cakes (more in a bit) and Wednesday evening was WI Meeting.  Today I did the weekly shop, this afternoon I slipped out to Fobbles for a very short time, mainly to catch up with Di and so we could show each other what we have been knitting.  This evening has been the area group meeting.  Tomorrow I'm due to bake loads for the WI stall at Egremont Crab Fair on Saturday.  Phewee!  I feel tired just thinking about it all!  On top of all that, Mary-Jane had a bad night Monday night (did I already tell you?) she was awake from 3.30 and so were we!  We are getting over it now.  It takes MJ around three days to get over one bad night and get back on her feet, I feel just the same!
So, cakes, cupcakes!  More from Cookie Girl Xanthe Milton's Eat Me!  I made Black Forest Cupcakes.  This time I baked them for two minutes less than the recipe and hey presto!  An vast improvement in them.  I also used more whipped cream on top and had some chocolate flakes to finish them off.  They also had a bigger dollop of kirsch mixed in with the jam.  I was quite impressed!


The second batch I made were Cinnamon, Banana and Walnut.  The cakes were slightly dry, only slightly dry for me.  The texture lent itself more to be a loaf than a cupcake.  I will try it again with a bit more banana and maybe a minute or two less baking time.  The topping I won't do again.  Only because it is too sweet for me.  It's 10 oz icing sugar, 2oz butter and one banana and cinnamon.  It hasn't stopped me eating them though at all!

The cakes were primarily made to take to the WI Meeting as a beit of a celebration following our winning first prize at th WI Exhibit at Gosforth Show last month.

Tomorrow may well be a marathon baking session, although I am trying to think about preparation stages - what can be baked together and how much can I realistically do.  One realistic thing is that if I do everything on my list then I will need some more eggs!  I have five eggs, no six if it's not been eaten today, and I need a grand total of 15.  My list runs like this:
  • Coconut Lime Cake
  • Apricot Tea Bread
  • Cider Loaf Cake
  • Marmalade Cake
  • Lemon Soaked Sponge
I really don't think I will get everything done, but will give it my best welly.  It will be fun.  At least I don't have to bother with decorating them. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Knit Club and MJ's Pinwheel Sweater

Woodlands Knitting resumed today after it's summer break - well we didn't meet for August as it the cafe's busiest month....  There was only four of us there, so it was quite cosy.  I had a good chat with one of the ladies, when there was just the two of us.  We chatted about a few different things - school mainly and a bit about work.  I was surprised how emotional I felt talking about school.  So many feelings and things that I don't talk about came to the fore, quickly boxed back up again and control regained, but left with surprise for the happening of it!

I am continuing to work on MJ's pinwheel sweater.  I am quite enjoying it at the moment and the colours are growing on me.  They are still bright though! I have changed to a longer cable and have nearly filled that one up.  I have yet to work out how much I need to go to finish.  I am guessing the same as the back or to the point of the armholes.  I shall leave the excitement of looking at the pattern till tomorrow!  It is just creeping past my bed time and my eyes are getting stingy.


 We have also had our WI committee meeting tonight.  Busy Busy Busy.  I have volunteered to make some cupcakes for the main meeting on Wednesday, to help celebrate the WI's win at Gosforth.  Now just to decide which cupcakes to make - that will be the difficult thing!

I have also been given the pattern for jumpers for the Fish & Chip Babies.  I will find out more about this.  In essence, in Africa, some parents/ mothers are that poor that they have no clothes for their new born babies, so they wrap them up in newspaper, hence the name 'Fish & Chip Babies'.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Colouring Coconut And Contemplations On A Cardi

I continue to spend many moments of my day with my nose stuck in a cake magazine or book.  Todays little inspiration is colouring coconut.  I always wondered how it was done, thinking it may be simple as you don't see it on supermarket shelves, nor indeed in the plethora of cake decorating things you can get online.  It turns out that it is quite a simple process to do. As simple as adding a few drops of liquid food colouring to coconut and giving it a good stir to coat it all.  The themes I thought about when dyeing this coconut was Christmas and grass. I think I did pretty okay.  All I need to do now is apply it - and use the stuff!  I may be baking and soon.  One idea I have is to just add it to a cupcake and see the result.  It may make the batter turn a colour, which would be interesting.  Of course it can be used as a topping to decorate.  I did wonder if a shiny sprinkle could be added to it, to give it shine and sparkle - without stating the obvious - as snow would sparkle and shine.

I am nearing the end of the cardi for Mary-Jane.  My jury is still out on it.  There are so many things I would change with the pattern.  As yet I haven't tried it on Mary-Jane.  It may look better on her (hopefully not worse!)  I did wonder whether to frog it all.  Then I thought that I spent so much time working on it that it would be a real shame to frog it.
The sleeves could do with being longer, but that is the amount of yarn I have left.  The pattern gives out to do a garter stitch border on the end.  No chance of that, no yarn!  The next cardi I do will have to be bigger.  I do like the essence of this pattern.  I did wonder whether I could adapt the EZ Surprise jacket, make the sleeves longer and on the straight part - the length of the body, add some lace work to that.  Or even do the rest of it in stocking stitch, remembering to do a different tension, but that may bugger the shaping and row count up.  So maybe scrap that idea and see if I can find another pattern that is an all in one one.  If I could think more clearly on how I would like the thing to be, then maybe I could design it myself.  Now there's a thing.

Friday, 7 September 2012

More Cupcakes

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do some baking.  I made two batches of cakes - Hazelnut Swirl Cupcakes and  Black Forest Cupcake.  Both recipes are from 'Eat Me!' by Xanthe Milton.  I highly recommend this book.  The recipes are brilliant - the last few baking sessions I have done, I have used her book.  If you would like to see the recipes, contact me!


These Black Forest Cupcakes, are topped with fresh cream, something to be bourne in mind when deciding how many you are going to make and how many people will be eating them - cream, like cupcakes shouldn't be left too long before being eaten!

This was the view slightly to my left as I sat down last night to knit and watch TV!  It's pretty much the same tonight, except no TV yet.

I had the new Cupcake Heaven magazine arrive yesterday as well.  I have only had a quick look through it, and not all the way through.  I am already inspired lots of times over to don my pinny!

On the back of my trip to the Sugarcraft Guild Meeting on Wednesday, I have sent off my application for this Septembers Sugarcraft course in Workington, at St Joe's school.  I have been told that as I was on the course last year, a place will be reserved for me, but because I wasn't able to get to the last five or so sessions, I didn't want to rest on my laurels, so the app and cheque went in the post yesterday.  Today I went through to Workington, to Chambers and got the list and supplies I needed for this term.  This was cutters and dusts.  I shall be making a spray of Java Orchid, Bouvardia and Veronica.  Watch this space!  I am getting nervous already, but really looking forward to it. The course starts a week on Tuesday.

I have also put my entry in for Eskdale Show today, the closing date is tomorrow.  I have also entered Mary-Jane in the pre-school class for two pictures.

Oh and I must tell you that I have used my new cake corer!  It is essentially the same as an apple corer, but designed to be used with cupcakes.  It takes out a cylindrrcal shape out of the middle.  It makes the cake look more professional when you bite into it or cut it open.  Another recommendation!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Getting Fired Up For Sugarcraft Again

I have been to West Cumbria Sugarcraft Guild meeting this evening.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now fired up to go back to the classes in Workington.  I am trying not to think how much the weekly trip in diesel will put an unwelcome hole in my budget.  The speaker-demonstrator was Robert Whitten from Berwick Upon Tweed.  Not only is he good at sugarcraft, he is really funny too listen to as well.  He demonstrated how to make a bag, which could either be a cake topper or an actual cake itself.  I feel that I have really learned a lot.  It is the human element that is lost when just trying to learn from books.  I shall have another think in the morning about going to the classes and talk with HK.

I will go to the Sugarcraft Guild Meetings again, they are once a month.  I was made quite welcome.  There were four people from the classes and a lady from Chambers in Workington that I knew.  It's always nice to see a familiar face when going somewhere new, especially on your own!

I am hoping to bake tomorrow, Black Forest Cupcakes and a Hazelnut cupcake.  I couldn't get to the kitchen today.  Mary-Jane was quite clingy with me.  She said she was tired.  I think her day yesterday, all the running around and fresh air tired her out.  She even said when I went to get her up that she wanted to stay in bed.  The poor thing awoke around 4am, so we had her on the bed for ten minutes or so, before I took her back to her own bed.

I am in my usual state of tiredness, so my head is not overly forthcoming.  Time for bed for me!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Visit From Sally

I have had a busy but really enjoyable weekend, and yes I know it is Tuesday today!  My friend Sally, from Stafford, came to visit.  On Saturday we had a bit of a small tour around the place.  We went into Whitehaven initially.  First stop was Dixons department store to look at their yarns.  We got distracted by lovely handbags on the way, very tempting! We both bought two balls of the same yarn so we could make the same project.  I worked out last night that we were about a 1/3 short for our chosen project.  I have not ahd chanve to see what we can do with what we have got.  After Dixons, we took a short walk along the harbour and went for a cuppa in The Waterfront.  Sally is much improved in her walking since I saw her last.  She has suffered with Juvenile Arthritus since a very young and tender age.  She has had a lot of joint surgery, including hip and knee replacements.
From the harbour, we went to Egremont, mainly for chips!  We sat outside Frasers, I had chips and a cheese & onion pattie, Sally had chips and sauce.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The we went on to St Bees head, to the Hartleys Cafe.  The tide was in and the sea was a bit choppy.  The views there are wonderful.  We sat in the cafe, drank copious amounts of tea and ate cake and knitted.  Blissfully relaxing!
On Sunday we went to Cockermouth, but it was virtually closed.  We went to Squirrels cafe - I can't remember it's proper name, but that was closed too as it was undergoing new management.  We then headed to Woodlands Cafe at Santon Bridge.  Success.  We sat outside in the sunshine and ate lunch.  I had a baked tattie with cheese and coleslaw, followed by a banoffee pie with ice cream.  Mary-Jane had an ice cream cornet.  On her first or second lick, the ice cream fell on the floor.  She didn't cry or protest, just carried on eating the cone.  Sally got her an ice cream in a tub.  She thoroughly enjoyed that.  It was lovely to see Mary-Jane running around making the most of the sunshine.  Luckily there wasn't anyone else sat outside, so she could have a run.  She was delighted that the floor was gravel - all those stones to pick up and bring to me!
Sally went back on the train on Monday.  I shall miss her dearly.