Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Still hot and bothered

The hot weather continues apace.  We have had one day where it was in the lower 20's and that was gorgeous!  Mary-Jane continues to sleep with us.  She is increasingly complaining of being tired and is actually asking to be taken to bed during the day for 'snoozybugs'.  Something will have to give on that front quite soon, natural progression.  HK and I also continue to be tired through lack of sleep and the heat, not painting a happy picture!
It has been too hot to bake, although I am getting withdrawal symptoms from being in the kitchen.  I have made a fruit lasagne, which didn't turn out anything like the picture.  I like the principle of it, but thought it lacked very much in the 'cheese' sauce department.  I haven't even made anymore ice cream, and two 300ml tubs of cream have gone down the sink as they've not been used.  I hate waste like that.
There is still no word on when I start work.  I am still waiting for my driving licence and new passport to come through.  I would have hoped the licence would have been here yesterday or today.  There is always tomorrow.  The passport I am not expecting for another few weeks at least.  I might be in this new job this side of Christmas, you never know.
The Pi Shawl is coming on well.  I still haven't put it down yet as I know that I probably won't pick it up for quite a while, so I endevour and enjoy to do as much as I can at the moment - around 3 - 4 rounds an evening.  I have now come to the point where the pattern says to cast off or do the edging, so I am free wheeling now.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I didn't realise it had been a week or so since I last blogged.  I had actually written, or attempted to write a couple of posts, not getting as far as publishing. 
It is so hot.  Yesterday the car said it was 30 degrees c.  Wilt.  My feet, especially the right one, have swelled up like balloons, from hlaf way up my calf to nearly at my toes.  Standing up to be on the laptop is very uncomfy.
We have been busy.  We went for a beautiful walk a couple of days ago, there are downloaded photos, to be published.  I have been to Penrith today for work Induction.  I still have no start date, but they wanted me to attend induction as they didn't know when the next one would be.  My driving licence is not through, I am expecting it any day.  My passport has now expired.  No doubt they will want a current one.  I am sending off for a new one tomorrow. 
I have made some Lime Curd Ice Cream - and very nice it is too!  And strangely enough - very cream!  I have plans to make some strawberry ice cream and lots more past there.  All in the fullness of time.  I will put the recipe up.  I've not baked, but am ready to do the Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake.
The Pi Shawl is coming on lovely.  I think - I know I will have to do lots more rounds more than the pattern states as I have used lace weight yarn instead of 4 ply.  It won't bee finished as soon as i thought it would be - only 24 rounds according to the pattern.  I might be about half way when pattern is completed, though I am hoping it will be more than that!

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Last evening was a long one.  Mary-Jane didn't settle to sleep until 9.30.  Tonight was about an hour earlier.  When HK went into her room, she had thrown her blanket and pillow, taken her pj top off and ripped even more wall paper off the wall.  Not to mention the shouting and screaming.  Which had at least, taken longer to reach crescendo.
I took her out shopping today.  In the second shop she started warming up for a tantrum, so I went to put her in the trolley.  She screamed all the more and fought to not go in the trolley.  So I picked her up and carried her out of the shop and to the car.  She calmed after five minutes or so, then had another five minutes sulk and came around after that.  Unfortunately it took Granma a further half an hour to exit the shop, by which time MJ was getting restless.  Apparantly the till had broken down as she was going through, then got caught by someone she knows who can and did, rattle and rattle, despite after ten minutes me fixing her with a few 'certain' looks.  These for me, were still in the range of polite glaring, not my full on glare.  Perhaps that might have been more effective, but one has to maintain some degree of politeness.  It was the once that I hoped MJ would start shouting and screaming, never mind!
After that Mary-Jane did try really hard to be good, she slipped a few times, but In fairness, worked really hard with herself.
I have been treated to Peggy Porschen Baking Boutique.  There are a lot of cakes I want to make, surprisingly.  The first one may well be the Summer Berry Layer Cake or the Dark Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake.  I might not do it dark chocolate, I find dark chocolate a little too rich, or not on the top of my likings list.  There are a few more I want to do and have been inspired to create a few of my own.  The recipes say to use 6" pans for the layer cakes, something I shall have to put on my wish list.
My Pi Shawl is still coming on well.  I am now on 576 stiches per round.  I have the lace pattern for this section well sunk into my head, so I can do the lace rounds (alternate ones) whilst the telly is on.  I have been watching 'Endevour' these last two evenings.  It is Morse as a young copper, quite good.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Coming Up To Speed

Mary-Jane is continuing to sleep with us, all night.  She shouts and screams until HK goes into her and they go into our bed.  HK does usually go up around 7pm to lie on the bed and stretch out, read and listen to the radio.  Mary-Jane settles fairly quickly once she is settled in bed with Daddy.  It is Daddy that she calls out for and Daddy that she wants.  She is still tired during the day, as we both are.  I'm not too bad with it at the moment, but it is catching up with HK.  She is generally settling better during the night, not waking up with the screaming ab-dabs.  Daytimes are slightly better as well, not so many tantrums and not for quite as long or quite as bad.  Still a way to go though.
I've made my Key Lime Cupcakes this afternoon.  I am tempted to decorate them tomorrow and pretty-fy them, perhaps use an icing bag to put the topping on.  I've not tasted one yet.  I'm hoping to spend a good bit of time in the kitchen tomorrow, we shall see.
MJ and I went to playgroup this morning.  Only the usual protests from her as we left, luckily.
I have another provisional Start Date, but this does not take into account the fact that my clearance checks are not complete.  The Induction Date is now 10th July in Penrith, for the afternoon.  It may be a step forward, or just a red herring step in the mist.  In other words, I'm not banking on it, not am I disregarding it.
I went to the Woolfest on Friday.  I always love going.  And as usual I could have spent an absolute fortune.  There seemed to be more for felting and spinning.  Spinning will happen, but in a few years at least.  I made a mental note that I could buy automatic carding machines, now that would save a lot of time!  There seemed to be a wider range of stalls, rather than just weighted towards ready to knit yarn.  The animals were lovely to look at, the alpacas raised the biggest crowd.
Saturday evening I went to the Annual Friends Of Chernobyl's Children fundraising social.  Very enjoyable. It is the third time I have been now.  I came a bit close to winning one game of stand up bingo.  Dad won the big raffle prize - a rocking horse for Mary-Jane.  She - and I - were thrilled to bits with it. 
I'm still on with my EZ Pi Shawl.  I'm enjoying doing it.  I have just started the increase row, from 288 to 576 stitches.  I do wonder how much I shall be enjoying it then!  It is not as big as I hoped for, so once I have done set amount of rows, I will be driven by my enthusiasm as to how much more I do of it.  I should be starting a Tuesday Night KAL, but I haven't decided what yarn to use.  I want to use a plainish one, the pattern calls for 4ply.  I can't lay my hands on plain 4 ply, only dk.  I will have another look at what I have in the house and get cracking with that as soon as poss.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Catch Up

Just a quickie tonight, to keep me in the rhythm.  Busy, sleepless weekend.  MJ still having horrendous tantrums, though slight improvement.  My headaches and health are feeling the stress, as is HK's.  We are getting there though.  Knitting is flying - Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl - the one from the Knitters Almanac.  Made Lime Curd, not got to make the Key Lime Cupcakes with it yet.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


I have finished my Palmette Shawl this evening.  It is being blocked at the moment.  Technical glitches prevent images.  I have really enjoyed doing this project.  It has been a lovely break and simple to do.  On the lace part, the lace pattern is in sixteen row repeats.  There is only one actual row of lace in four rows.  The actual stitches that repeat the pattern are the same, so once you've got your head around that, which to me is an easy to remember formula.  This may well spur me on to do more shawls and shawl like things.
All this and on the eve of the Woolfest.  I should be swinging from the rafters, but this years Woolfest is going to be a 'Seeing Only', not buying, for me.  I know that will rankle me, but that is how it is.  Ha, otherwise I would spend a fortune on exquisitely gorgeous yarns to make upteen shawls and other beautiful goodies with!  It will make next years Woolfest all the sweeter.  In the meantime I shall go stash surfing in my SABLE Stash, for scrummy things I have put by to use.  Even stash surfing is making me excited.  Never Mind!
We had another disturbed night.  Not quite as disturbed as the others.  I think HK had a much worse night than me to be honest.  I woke up feeling rather grotty.  My guts have been playing up, in a way they were over the winter, a tad worrying.  They have improved as the day has gone on, but they still don't feel quite right.  HK insisted that I go back to bed again after breakfast, which I did, and had a good sleep/rest.
Poor MJ has been very tired, and not overly full of beans.  Even she has tried a few times to take a nap and get cosy comfy to close her eyes.  She hasn't been successful with this.  She has asked to go to bed a few times in the day.
I didn't get to do any baking.  I didn't feel up to it at all.  Doing a mashed egg sandwich at lunch time was enough.  It was nice to have a relaxing day.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Mary-Jane woke up as I was getting into bed last night.  We bit the bullet and kept her in with us - or did we try her on her own bed, but started screaming as soon as the bedroom door was shut?  Each night is getting a bit samey samey at the moment!  She did try to settle down, rather than be wide awake and bouncy.  Initially she clung to me, really nestled into me for quite a while.  Although she is a cuddly child, her need to be held and to be close to me, was quite intense.  I did wonder if she had been dreaming about falling out with me - shouting and screaming and having a tantrum - and wanted lots of re-assurance.  This is the sort of thing she would do.  We cuddled for ages, it was lovely I must say.  I could feel her breath on my skin, so gentle.
When it was finally time to get up, I was still tired, weren't we all.  MJ wanted to stay on the bed and have snugglebugs.  I felt a bit run down, as if I was getting the start of a cold.  A while later, HK sent me off to bed to have a lie down and a sleep, to help me feel better.  I didn't need to be told twice.  I had a sleep for nearly an hour and a half and felt a lot better for it. 
Nothing much else was done this morning.  MJ and I had some time out in the garden, trying to ignore the strong breeze.  The sun was lovely though.  MJ was thoroughly delighted when Daddy came out.
This afternoon, HK had to sign on.  Off to Whitehaven.  We did our weekly shop early to avoid going again tomorrow.  I can't go Friday as it's Woolfest.  I am lucky enough to be a Volunteer again, so I get to help out and get in for free.  Usually there is a complementary yummy ice cream as well into the bargain!
I have applied to CCFWI - Cumbria Cumberland Federation Womens Institute - for a Bursary to go on a course at Denman House in Oxfordshire.  I suppose I have as much chance as anyone else of winning the bursary.  Attending there is not something I can do under my own steam for quite a few years with the way things are now.  My app will get there at the last minute, the end of June is closing date, so fingers crossed!
My provisional start date for work is July 5th.  With all the business of having to send off for my driving licence, I have convinced myself that I won't be starting then.  I have recieved an email this evening from my boss-to-be telling me that I will be kept in the loop over the next few days.  It does make me wonder if strings are going to be pulled for me to start on the 5th.  I am not quite mentally prepared for this.  I guess being thrown in the deep end is something I have got used to.  I am better swimming there than at the shallow end.
I am hoping to do some baking tomorrow.  Not decided what yet, key lime cupcakes, a rhubarb cake, rhubarb curd and maybe either baileys scones or mincemeat scones are all vying for my attention.  I suppose a lot if it depends on what tomorrow brings, and tonight for that matter!
My knitting is flying.  I decided to do an extra set of pattern repeats on the Palmette Shawl.  I have another six rows to do before doing a crochet cast off.  My goodness - does that mean I could get it done and blocked, ready to show off at Woolfest on Friday?! Maybe a tall order.  Or less potential baking  teeheehee!

Monday, 24 June 2013


We all had a good nights sleep last night - bliss!  The bad nights are catching up with Mary-Jane, with avengance.  Withing two hours of getting up, MJ was wanting snugglebugs and trying her best to settle down and have a sleep.  That was after she threw the biggest tantrum of her little life.  The day has been interspersed with her admitting that she is tired.  Another good night or two will get her (and us) back on her feet.  I wasn't at my best as I have had a singing headache all day from her high pitched screams.
Once things had calmed, we took a trip to the Library and to do the recycling in Gosforth.  MJ picked two books, one in particular she has had before, and really took a shine to it.  She has looked at this at bedtime, as well as a new favourite library book - one that helps you learn the time (only the 'on the hour' time) with a story of Merlin the Dog and what he does from 7am and each hour from there till bed time at 6pm.  She is quite taken with this.  She is getting familiar with o'clock times already.  This book has a built in clock face with hands that you can move around, which she is delighted with.
This afternoon we went into Whitehaven to do a spot of shopping with Granma and to go to The Cafe For A Coffee.  After the cafe, MJ wanted to use the toilet, got there just in time, good for her.  When we came out of the loo, she headed straight for the Peppa Pig Ride and got on.  Things went rapidly downhill from there.  As soon as she was on the ride, it started interacting with her - talking to her and flashing lights etc.  She was hooked, excited and thrilled.  I was not.  I did feel a bit mean at asking her to get off, which she didn't.  I don't want to start a thing where she thinks she can go on a supermarket ride everytime we go shopping.  As you can probably guess, the situation didn't end well.  I had to lift her off there, against her will, with her screaming and shouting.  Of course she didn't want to walk with me through the store, back to Granma in the cafe.  So I got her by the hand/wrist and off we went.  I have never had so many people stop and stare at me before.  Her screaming was deafening.  She did begin to calm after ten minutes or so, but as soon as I wanted her to do something she didn't want to do, like walk with me, the screaming started again.  In the end I picked her up and carried her.  This did have a calming effect on her quite quickly. 
When I said to her that I was going to put her down, she asked me very politely for pick ups as she was very tired.  Can't argue with that.  She snuffled in for a few minutes longer. When she got down she was good, only for a few minutes.  The whole situation culminated in me taking her by the wrist after the checkout and walking her briskly to the car.
She admitted on the way back that she was still sulking (always makes me smile when she admits this!).  She has apologised a few times since.  She even asked Daddy if he would take her back to the shop so she could say sorry to the lady in the shop.  By the time we got back, she had pulled herself around, and was looking more than tired with very puffy dark eyes.  Between then and bedtime, we have only had the odd squalk.  Since bedtime I haven't heard her at all, only the throbbing of my temples!
Several rows of knitting later and I am headache free.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Of Rhubarb, Cheese and Yet Another Sleepless Night

Another fairly sleepless night had by all again last night.  Before the screaming got to fever pitch, HK bought MJ through to our bed.  We did not attempt to take her back to her room, this is futile when she is as she is at the moment.  She did try to settle in fairness, but just couldn't quite catch her sleep.  After about two hours and two trips to the loo, we took Mary-Jane downstairs around 5.30.  HK insisted that I go back to bed and rest, so I did for an hour and a half.  I have protested at this point and stayed up, much to my later fatigue, so I didn't argue this time.  I did, however, nag the beejaysus out of HK to do the same.  He gave into my nagging at mid-day, and went to bed for a few hours.  Fingers and toes crossed tonight that Mary-Jane is that tired that she sleeps through.  I did wonder if she is going through a growth spurt, as she usually can't sleep well when she is.  The high winds don't help either, and they are still up.  I have heard her murmer twice this evening so far.
We did get a brief time out in the garden.  The winds were a bit strong to stay out long.  I had primarily gone out to pick the rhubarb and to let MJ have a bit of fresh air.  The rhubarb patch is doing really well.  I have about stripped it bare now, it was all ready for picking.  I have bagged up five pounds of rhubarb, 3 x 1lb bags and 4 half pound bags.  I want to use it soon, to do some kind of rhubarb cake and maybe some rhubarb curd - a recipe that I briefly came across in Sean Wilson's book today.
Talking of which, I am warming to him a little more.  In his very lenthgy but informative introduction of his life up to now, he seems more passionate about food and cheese than of his 21 years as a celeb on 'Corrie'.  It made me sit up a bit more and take notice, and realign my thinking.  I haven't looked at all the recipes yet.  I am inspired to make a fair few things.  And cheese, it has fanned my flames further to make cheese .  I am aware that things aren't quite in the right place for me to have a go at making cheese, but I will in the fullness of time.  It's going to be a thing I want to research a little more, and start of with something really simple.  Posh cheeses, as I call them these days, are beyond my current budget, we make the most of 'value' cheese and get along very nicely.  I do look longingly at posh cheeses, and in true Wayne's World admiration I think - one day you will be mine, oh yes you will be mine!  And I shall savour every single morsel of it.  It will be like rediscovering cheese.  Now I am more Foodie orientated than ever and I know I shall appreciate, critique and develop my taste for cheese and all good foods.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Sleep With The Lark, Rise With The Lark

I am back from my sojourn, my absence.  I needed a break.  The last nearly two months have been tiring and stressful amongst other things, and I was already sick of saying all too regularly that I was tired.  Not tired of blogging, mind!  
The lighter evenings and especially mornings have had Mary-Jane waking early, seeing the day light and thinking that it was morning and time to get up, even when she was really tired and wanted to go back to sleep, she fought it.  A very common thing apparantly in young children!  Sleep with the lark, rise with the lark.  She has been waking anything from 3.30 am, averaging around 5.30.  It is getting better now, although the last two nights she has awoken in the night and refused to come anywhere near settling until she is esconced in our bed.  The recent heat has been effecting her (and HK) too, we are so not used to it, it has knocked the pair of them about.  I have found that I can't tolerate the heat as much as I used to.  It is absolutelty pickling it down outside now.  I wonder how long it will be before I'm moaning about the rain!
On the work front - I still haven't started yet.  I have a provisional start date, but I can see this slipping away.  The amount of (justifiable) security checks I have had to under go are like nothing I have undergone before.  The thing that is holding the works up now is that the Establsihment want to see a particular identity document, which has been long since lost.  I have now had to send off for another, but with change of name and address (don't worry, its a change to what and where I still am now!).  That may take a few weeks to come back, I have to send a copy off to the Establishment and they will inturn send it off for their checks.  My provisional start date was the begining of July, I think it will be more like the start of August.  I have had to do a lot of leg work and running around to move things along, all adding to general stress levels.  The interview now seems to be the easiest part of the whole process.  I am sure it will all be worth it in the end, hopefully.
Mary-Jane is now two weeks into potty training.  I thought she would have had this sussed a long time ago, but the time couldn't have been right for her when we have tried her previously.  She is doing very well.  I'll try not to go into too much details!  She now wears knickers during the day, and is able to tell us she needs the loo before she actually goes.  We've not had any wet knickers for quite a few days now.  This afternoon was the first time she has been out and about with out her Dora's on (pull up training pants).  Even when in the garden she will run inside when she needs to go. 
Enough of that for now!
I have started the Clandestine Cake Club Gosforth Cumbria.  We had our first meeting on Thursday.  It was small and successful.  I am planning on having another one in September, once I know what it happening with work and get the main holiday season over with etc.  I will tell you lots more about this as time goes on.
Whitehaven Maritime Festival is on this weekend.  I ventured into Whitehaven this morning to Tesco for a book signing by Sean Wilson, more of that another day.  I got my book signed and found that Tesco were selling jars of Robertson Mincemeat for 20p, with a use by date of somewhere well into 2015.  I only got five jars.  Same as last year strangely enough.
HK isn't too bad at the moment.  He has all his usual aches and pains.  This was added to when he dropped a 3' x 2' paving slab on his foot.  Nurse Me was there on hand to bandage up his foot.  Mary-Jane wanted to learn to bandage and help Daddy, so she has had her first lessons in such matters.
I'm still knitting, needless to say.  I'm working on a shawlette KAL at the moment and quite enjoying it.  And yes I am still baking.  I made a five layer orange and chocolate cake for the CCC.  It would have been six layers but...  again more later, I'm trying to catch up at the mo.  I have also cut a pattern for a skirt for me, based on my actual measurements rather than copy a standard pattern.  I am fired up and confident to cut more patterns.  However, I do want to physically sew something before I get too carried away, got to make sure the garment construction and fit are good to go.  Oh and there is the small issue of acquiring fabric, that will probably be in a few months from starting work, when life is more settled, when I am more settled.
Yesterday saw HK and I's 7th Wedding Anniversary.  We kept it very low key.  I hope we continue to have many, many more x

Friday, 3 May 2013

Musing on Planning Cake Baking and a Future New Knitting Thing

I am planning to bake tomorrow for the NSPCC Plant Sale.  I decided to do two cakes from one of my new books - The Clandestine Cake Club.  There are plenty that have caught my eye.  I didn't want to do a cake that required a lot of decoration.  I settled on about a dozen possibilities.  I dreaded the thought process of having to decide.  I made a list of all the definite 'I would like to make this cake', cut the list up and folded the pieces, then got mum to draw out two pieces of paper.  I am now going to make Choo Choo Chai Cake and Magic Bean Cake.  I have bought the necessary ingredients, I couldn't get ground cardamom, so had to settle for cardamom pods and hope I can find a pestle and morter tomorrow.  If I get done in good time, I may just make some coconut pyramids.  I do have to bear in mind doing Mary-Jane's meals and our tea.  The Magic Bean cake doesn't have any filling.  The other one does, but that shouldn't be too bothersome.
I don't want to be on the go all day, at this rate it will probably be most of it!
Mary-Jane is feeling better.  She is more willing to tell us that she is feeling better of okay rather than tell us that she is feeling poorly.  Maybe she doesn't have the words to tell us yet.  She has eaten more and her skin is improving.  The Friday Trip To Tesco seemed to have blown a few of her cobwebs away.  Hopefully she will have another good nights sleep and that will help her.
I have finished the body of her Touch of Lace cardi.  Tomorrow I will start on the sleeves, I was too tired to start anything new this evening.  It's looking pretty.  It dawned on me this evening that I may be moving in a direction of trying something outside my usual box.  To do something either that I wouldn't normally do or some technique that I haven't tried before.  Maybe it could be the cabled aran blanket.  Perish the thought that it would be along the lines of finishing one of the three lace projects that I started last year!  I have quite a lot of hours of TV viewing, so one of the main criteria is that I can do it whilst watching TV.  Or maybe I could allocate one evening a week say, to this New Thing.  We shall see, no doubt I shall change my mind many times before then.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Interview Part 2

My interview went very well.  I'll spare the details for now.  I left the place at 3.30.  At 5.00 I had a phone call offering me a substantive (full time permanent) post.  The interview was for a bank nurse, but apparantly the advert was mis-worded and they actually were advertising a full time post.  How do I feel about that?  Jolly Good said I.  It seems really weird that I'm going back to work, pending references and clearances etc.  I can't see them being problematic.  In fact today, here and now, it seems rather fanciful, just something I have made up.  This will bring so many changes.  the vast majority of them will be positive.  I will be working four days on and four days off.  The hours are 7.30 - 5.30 Monday to Friday and a few hours less on Saturday and Sunday.  No nights, no late evenings.  It's the nearest I have ever got to office hours, apart from when I was based on the juvenile unit, where I did similar hours.  I will be home in time to put Mary-Jane to bed each night, that I shall look forward to as it will be the only time I see her on my working days.
I know the band I shall be working but I've yet to hear the point within the grade.  I asked if I could negotiate my point as I am not newly qualified and have lots of experience.  This is at their discretion. I'd be satisfied with at least mid range, further up would be a bonus.  I'll still accept the job, it's a step back in and I'm sure some kind of promotion/vacancy wouldn't take too long.  Plus it won't be too much responsibility to start off with.  I have to remember that my last working day was in May 2010!
Hopefully now I can get back on track with myself (in lots of ways) and stop having the inner meltdown from when I decided to re-register and get my nursing pin number back.  The changes to our lives are now going to be many and far reaching.
On to other things before I even think about getting philosophical!
Mary-Jane has had a heavy cold for a few good few days.  She has been off her food quite badly for nearly three days.  She has eaten much more today, not as much as usual, but much more than the last day or two.  Plus she hasn't been coughing in the night as much.  Her skin has gone to pot - it does when she is off the hooks.  She is now back on her three different creams, which have been working really well - I've noticed a difference already.  She did say late afternoon that she was feeling better.
The weather needs a mention as well - we have been enjoying some sunshine, as well as the usual wind and rain.  It has been very pleasant!  HK has transplanted the tomato and basil outside yesterday.  We looked at what seeds we have - more than what I thought.  The only thing we really need at the moment is seed potatoes.  Nothing has been planted as the weather hasn't been quite there yet.
I shall make more of an effort to blog a bit more regularly.
I am still making Mary-Jane's Touch of Lace cardi.  It is coming on lovely and I am enjoying doing it.  It is knit all in one from the bottom up.  I am a few rows off finishing the back.  After this is done, I'll do more of the February Lady Cardi for me, whilst I deliberate on what next to do for MJ, she certainly needs more cardi's - and maybe some tank tops!

Sunday, 28 April 2013


I have a work interview on Tuesday.  I won't say too much about it now, I'll wait till after.  I have a brand new outfit to wear and feel confident.  I am a little out of touch with what has been happening in the wonderful world of nursing in the last three years, and I'm panicing about that a little at the moment, mainly because I'm tired and I don't know where to start looking or to think of the right words to google to start looking.  I have only tomorrow now to swat up.  It is for a bank nurse, so I wouldn't expect I should know everything, I do want to come across pretty clued up as it could lead to a permanant post. Job description should help, I'll go and have a quick look.

All else is well here.  Mary-Jane has another cold/cough. HK has an achey back after mowing all the lawns.  Things may be the same or they may actually be starting to change for the better!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Playgroup and A Trip To A Nursery

We had a better nights sleep last night.  MJ did start crying but settled herself down before she woke up properly.  HK bought her into our room around half six (I would have and could have slept for longer!) as she was wide awake.  So far this evening I haven't heard a peek out of her since she initially fell asleep, and that was after she chatted to her bo-bo's toys and sang them a few songs.
We went to playgroup this morning.  Mary-Jane always loves playgroup.  There was a couple of older children there.  The singing time was very noisy, I couldn't hear what song was being sung.  Mary-Jane wouldn't sit or participate and screamed a few times then started crying till I picked her up and comforted her, sang to her and she smiled.  At bed time she said, without prompting, when Daddy was asking her about playgroup, that the she didn't sing because it was too noisy and she didn't like it.  Heartbreaking.
After playgroup, we walked over the the Nursery, with another Mum and child.  The nursery is across the road.  The manager was very friendly - we had turned up on spec - she spoke with us and will post out registration forms and further information to us.  There is plenty of spaces for September for Mary-Jane, which was my main concern.  I just need to arrange a time for HK and I to go and look around.  Mary-Jane seemed to like what little bit we saw.  She heard the children playing and said that they were her friends and she wanted to play with them.  I am so looking forward to her starting Nursery.  I need to contact one other local nursery to go and have a look there.  As well as to make sure that Mary-Jane will be in the catchment area for both schools that the nurseries feed into.  Then won't life change once MJ is in Nursery!!!
This afternoon I managed to get some down time, on HK's insistance.  Cups of tea, feet on the bean bag and knitting!  I must say that I was definitely ready for a bit of daytime downtime and was thankful for it.  I worked on my February Lady Cardi.  The rows are getting quite long now, only about seven before I put the sleeve stitches on holders and start the main body lace pattern.  This evening I have worked on MJ's blue cardi.  I have now turned the hem and am on the third row of fifty of the main body.  I think the next cardi I do, whether for me or Mary-Jane will have to be one that is not knitted all in one.  I am ready for a bit of a break from that technique.  Although I wouldn't say no to a proper yoke, maybe fairisle, but we will have to see about the latter!
I made a batch of Jackson Baked Beans yesterday - very tasty.  I put more Buffalo Wing Sauce in it this time.  HK suggested that next time we put in a touch of ghost chilli.  I suggested that that batch of beans would probably be for him and him alone!!
I have plans to do more baking, I'm still wanting to do two banana bakes to use up some bananas.  And I want to do sweet potato pie, as well as a quiche.  And some courgette and dolcelatte soup.  Busy, busy, busy!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Make Do And Mend

I am sick of myself bemoaning the fact that we are on a tight budget.  We are, there is no two ways about that, but that isn't the be-all-and-end-all of life.  As the song words go -
So when the pressures on
And there's nowhere left to go
You're gonna have to come to terms
To terms with what you know through
The challenge is to look for what I can use, what I can do, to create opportunities, rather than focusing on the negative - what I can't use or can't do or how bad things are.  It's not a new concept by all means, even to me.  It's just the practical application of it.  And finding the positive in any situation.  I've been spurred on a little in this line of thinking by the sheer practical-ness and resourcefulness of people - women - during the Second World War and the Post Year Wars.  Things were scarce or just not available, but they still made do.  It might not have been the most pleasant or endearing thing, but it was done, it was practical, it was creative and it worked.  I am not yet wholly fired up to go out tomorrow morning and seek out new to me fabrics and clothes that can be altered.  It is a thing that knowing me will probably happen quietly and creep up on me.  This sort of thing can take time, but also goes in leaps and bounds.
I am already making this philosophy happen within my cooking and baking.  And with my knitting, especially my recent knitting for Mary-Jane.  And most of all, I am enjoying it.  Hurrah for recognising self development.

The song is 'What you know' by The Levellers. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sewing Bee

I have watched The Great British Sewing Bee tonight for the first time.  Okay so it was the second part, the first clashed with other things I was recording.  However I am quitely inspired - again - to get out my sewing machine and sew.  I know I have been part way down this road before and got all fired up.  Dressmaking is something I know how to do.  A big fly in the ointment is that I have not properly done dressmaking for more moons than I can remember, so I am very rusty.  I have a philosophy that it will be like riding a bike - you never really forget once you're there.  There are other flies in the ointment along side, lack of space and time - fabric is a major one.  Even if I could source good fabric locally, at the moment, it is not a thing that is within my tighter than A Gnats Cod budget.  I have been told of a pretty smart fabric shop in Ulverston.  I'd like to go and look.

I joked with HK that he better watch the bed linen - the cotton sheets and duvet covers may be re-cycled.  He was not at all impressed.  Must go now, Mary-Jane has woken up and is crying x

Friday, 19 April 2013

Early Nights

I've been having some early nights, this one included.  I do feel a bit better for them.  The nights haven't been all peaceful, and MJ has spent some nights in with us when she hasn't been able to settle.  I have been busier during the days, and have much to tell you about.  Nothing startling or life changing though, so don't get too excited!  However I do need to get back into the swing of blogging again and not feeling guilty about not blogging.

I have been busy knitting (as usual) and have finished Mary-Jane's Sweet Violet Cardi.  I have frogged my Tulip cardi that I started in February and started another last night, very similar to the tulip one.  I have nearly used the same meterage of yarn, so am doing well.  I have been continuing to enjoy baking bread and am showing improvement.  I have done some other dribs and drabs of baking.

We have spent a little time in the garden, spring is arriving at last.  I have found a new place for us to walk, just by Gosforth, at Ponsonby Tarn.  Although I must say that access will be a bit dodgy when it has been raining.

My Tea Bread won second place at our WI competition, yes I was chuffed!

Mary-Jane is doing really well.  She still has her cough.  I've yet to get her a place at Nursery for September.

HK has dug over the veg patch, so we should be planting soon-ish.  He has also started weeding and pruning the soft fruit bed.  He is also turning his attention to a second veg patch, that needs a fair bit of work on before we even think about planting.  The chooks are doing well egg laying what with the arrival of spring.  We have nine chooks now.

I'm off to bed now, I am tired - the last two nights have given HK and I little sleep.  We had MJ in with us from around 3am, and she chattered on and off until morning. Grrrr.  Happy days really!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Unsettled Knitting and Getting Better Garlic Bread

Mary-Jane has been a little poorly.  The night before last she awoke around 10pm, we bought her through to our room.  It soom became quite clear that she ahd every intention of spending the night with us.  Luckily she settled off to sleep very quickly and all in all the three of us didn't have too bad a night.  In the morning however, MJ woke up grizzling and quite cranky, she was out of sorts with herself.  This is unlike her.  And she was quite contrary.  I had about finished getting her dressed, after many many cuddles, she was sat on the edge of the bed, then she was sick, the poor little mite.  She seemed to be running a temp as well.  She did seem to perk as the day went on.  She tried her very best to be good and wanted lots and lots of cuddles.  She slept well that night and today  was pretty much back to her normal self, albeit a slight temp.  HK has felt a little off the boil and I have felt more tired than what I feel I should be.  Lets just hope it's a little bug we've picked up that passes after a day or two.
I haven't really been able to settle to much knitting either.  I finished MJ's purple ruffled top on Monday night.  At Kniterati on Tuesday I started a new project, a stripey one piece cardi, knitted from the top down.  I had found a bag of six yarns that were free with a magazine some time ago.  The colours were lovely, spring pastels.  I thought it would make a pretty cardi for Mary-Jane.  Once I started knitting, it was obvious that the yarn wasn't of the best quality.  I continued with it in the evening.  Then it dawned on me that I had not added extras stitches for a buttone band, so I frogged it.  I picked some different yarn - two pale purples left over from my EZ ASJ and one from the ruffled top.  I cast on a EZ TSJ.  Eight ridges in I made the decision that I didn't like the colour combination.  That got frogged.  I then picked out the white with purple fleck that I'd used for the Tango Top, and cast on another EZ TSJ.  I did one row before I was tired and went to bed.
Then this morning I had the bright idea of frogging that and using the pattern that I had originally started with.  It made sense.  I thought the yarn would look better in a smoother stocking stitch than a garter stitch.  I am thinking of doing the body in a light lace.  I've not even thought about what stitch yet until I know how many stitches I have to work with.  With all this unsettledness in my knitting, perhaps I was a little more off the boil than what I previously thought!

I have found a pattern, a Lion Brand one, for a big cabled aran blanket.  It has caught my eye.  I have printed it off an will have a more serious look at it, with needles in hand, when I'm more in the mood to do something like that.

I have also been busy in the kitchen (and I wonder why I feel a bit tired come evening).  I have made another key lime pie.  This time I used ginger nuts for the base and a better quality lime, giving a much tastier pie all round. And I was able to christen one of my new pie dishes.  I have also made two loaves of garlic bread, on different days.  The first one was quite a winner, but the second one was even better.  Initially I used one garlic bulb, roasted with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and oil.  the second time I used two bulbs of garlic.  Very scrummy.  We had the second one for tea tonight with home made macaroni cheese and breaded garlic mushrooms.  Delicious.

The weather continues to try and break into spring.  We have had a couple of not too bad days.  I have even pegged a load of washing out in the garden and it dried within a few hours.  Mary-Jane and I took advantage of this nice weather and went for a walk down Nursery Road.  It was lovely to walk and feel the sun on us.

I have contacted a local (ish) place of work for me, I think I have mentioned this.  They have requested my CV to review.  I have duly sent it off and am now waiting to see if I hear anything of them.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Out in the garden

I think Spring is trying it's best to put in an appearance.  The weather was mild enough for us to sit outside for a good half an hour.  HK gave the grass it's first cut of the year.  MJ enoyed running around outside and playing on her slide.  I  loved watching her.  I found it quite spiritually envigourating and very relaxing to sit out and look around the garden.  I could feel my muscles deep in my shoulders and back relaxing down.  At times like this it makes me realise how tense I actually am all the time.
The garden needs much work on it.  Although we are willing to look after it and have great plans for it, our hands are tied as it is not our garden to do as we please. 

Mary-Jane is in mid flight.  She has out grown her swing already!
The veg patch is in a sorry state.  HK dug it over a few times last year.  We didn't plant anything.
The soft fruit bed, in even a more sorry state than the veg bed! We were told that didn't need any pruning or cutting back, so probably no soft fruit again this year.  Such a shame.
My rhubarb patch.  I have asked HK if I can take over looking after it, as it has been threatened with digging up and the plants re-planting in the different places where they were originally, as they didn't yeild much rhubarb last year.  Perhaps they just need time to settle and to be looked after.

The view from by the front wall looking onto Cold Fell.  There is still snow on the tops of the fells.
View turning around and looking up the garden.  We are down to nine chooks now.  We would like to build a better, more practical, safer run for the chooks.  Can you see the lesser spotted HK?!
HK and MJ by the veg patch.  This is the table and chairs we bought with us when we moved.
Earlier in the day, Mary-Jane and I planted some seeds in easy grow pots.  Another introduction for MJ to learn about gardening.  We planted basil, chives and tomatoes.  Granma has bought some cress seeds.  It will be fun to find unusual containers and plant the cress.  I have also thought about growing some mustard seeds - I need to keep my eye out for some!
To follow on with these herbs, I am hoping to grow more herbs outside.  There is a small herb bed, although this has been taken over by ?bay leaf.  I shall see what magic I can work.  I don't want to grow too many different herbs, just the ones that I primarily use.  Mint is a must!  I still cant have boiled tatties without mint.  I would also like to try and make my own mint sauce.  I don't have big ideas for a herb garden, just to start small and manageable.  Let's see what the year brings us - hopefully a good and bountiful harvest.

Friday, 29 March 2013

The start of the Easter Holiday Weekend

I have come a little closer to achieving my Holiday Weekend Goals.  I have made a quiche and some cheese and mustard pinwheels from the left over pastry - they didn't last long at all, I must say.  I shall try again tomorrow in the kitchen, if I'm feeling up to it and if the kitchen is free.  We also need to go to the library in the morning.  Mary-Jane, Mum and I went to Tesco this morning to do my weekly shop.  I got MJ a denim jacket.  She point blank refused to try it on in the shop.  It was a size 5/6 years, I thought it would fit her, but if I'd noticed the label it said in small print 23" chest.  I would have known to get a bigger size (and roll the sleeves up!).  When we got back, the only way I could get her to try it on was on a promise to go outside and see the daffodils.  Fair trade off really.  Except the jacket was too small for her, so a walk outside to see the daffs turned into yet another trip to Tesco to change it.  We ended up with a size 8/9 as it was a 25" chest.  She is only two and a half.  She is roughly 39" tall.  Definitely a Jackson Gal!
So MJ, HK and I went back to Tesco in the afternoon.  We also got some more plinky plonk for Grandad as it had 25% off, plus the wine that I chose was about half price.  Bargain.  Grandma also got some fresh yeast a big lump for the princely sum of 1p, as it 'had to go through the till, sorry'.  If the yeast is not used, it gets thrown out, so it is not minded that customers ask for it.  Something I shall remember.  That's if I prefer it to dry yeast.  I have a feeling it will be a while before I start thinking about that decision, unless I have a specific disaster!
I am about 3/4's through the Summer Ruffled Top for Mary-Jane.  I do like the way the yarn knits up - I wouldn't mind a cardi out of it myself!
A few days ago HK, MJ and I went to the Tat Shop in Egremont.  Lady Luck was smiling on me.  I found some non-interchangeable circulars, five pairs size 2mm through to 3mm, different lengths, a ball of variagated orange yarn, wound up in a ball and to me, looking rather a lot like malabrigo.  I was smirking by this point, as you can imagine.  But the piece d'resistance was yet to come.  Two earthenware 9" pie dishes, looking as near to new as possible.  And a pound each.  Happy, Happy, Happy in the words of the philosophical Phil Robertson.  A Key Lime Pie and a Pumpkin Pie have re-entered the 'Must Bake Soon' list.  I was very chuffed to say the least.  HK had luck as well - two camera lenses at a good price, and a fraction of what he found them on ebay for.
I have started the ball rolling to re-register as a nurse.  The only place I particularly would chose to work is the prison.  It is becoming apparant that between HK and I this may be the most likely way of one of us working.  It is not a decision I have taken lightly.  There is no vacancies at the moment, apart from in IDTS - Integrated Drug Treatment Service, I don't overly fancy doing that, but won't say never.  So I may hang out an application for a while till a regular prison nurse job comes up.  Or another job I fancy.  The lure of being on the same or similar wage is more than enticing.  Time away from Mary-Jane does not enthuse me.  I have an amount of blind faith in that the path will be illuminated for me.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Jackson's Baked Beans and Fruit Scones

Jackson's Baked Beans

Dedicated to Auntie Annie
  • 3 onions, chopped and diced
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 500g dried haricot beans
  • 250ml veg stock
  • 500g passata
  • good squidge of tomato paste/ketchup
  • few tbsp buffalo wing sauce (to your taste)
  • oil for frying
  1. Soak haricot beans in plenty of cold water, 8-10 hours, preferably overnight.  Drain and rinse well.  Put in a pan with fresh water, boil for 10 minutes then simmer for an hour.  Or follow instructions on your pack
  2. Set oven to 140c/ gm 1
  3. Fry the onions, add mustard powder, paprika, sugar, salt, garlic. 
  4. Mix the veg stock and roughly half of the passata together, then add to pan.  This just helps the two liquids combine.  Add the rest of the passata, tomato paste and buffalo wings sauce
  5. Give it a good stir and let bubble gently for ten minutes or so.
  6. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook in oven for about 2 hours.  Stir a couple of time and taste - add seasoning or any bits and bobs to your own taste
These beans can be frozen

Fruit Scones
  • 1lb (16oz) self raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, mixed with buttermilk to make up to 10fl oz
  1. Heato oven to 220c/gm 7.  Flour baking sheets
  2. sift the flour with the salt, rub in the butter until resembles fine bread crumbs.  This can be done in a processor. 
  3. Stir in the sugar and fruit
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the fluid, retaining a very small amount.  Mix to a spongy dough
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knead gently then roll to 1" thick and cut with cutter
  6. Brush tops with remaining fluid
  7. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the scones are golden brown.

Easter Plans

I had planned to have some kitchen time today.  I want to do a fair bit of baking for this Easter Weekend.  Today I wanted to do a quiche for our tea and a Simnel Cake.  I got pastry out of the freezer, along with carrot soup for lunch.  I checked that I had all the ingredients for the Simnel Cake - I had.  Then it was out to me to go shopping.  I needed milk to tide us over till tomorrow when I do the weekly shop.  Plus there were some Crock type shoes on offer in Lidl that I could make good use of.  When I am in the kitchen weraing my slipppers, for some reason I can feel the cold of the floor coming through them, which I haven't had with any other footwear, including an identical pair of slippers I had last winter.  So I agreed to go shopping with Mum.  We came back five hours later, after going to Wilsons the Butchers, Lidl, Iceland, Home Bargains and Morrisons, I didn't get any baking done and we didn't have quiche for tea and the carrot soup is still in the fridge.  It was so busy on the roads and in the shops!  It was like Christmas.
So I want to go out first thing tomorrow and get what we need for the week, and get back in good time, and try again to do some baking!  I also want to bake some bread, some biscuits with Mary-Jane, maybe do a trifle, and this Manchester Tart which is starting to drive me up the wall because I've not made it yet.  And a lasagne, I've been after making one for a few weeks.  My last attempt was thwarted at the final hurdle as I didn't have any lasagne sheets(!).  I do now.
On the upside of things, Mum bought a Pop Cake Maker and chocolate fondue set today.  Pop Cakes are now on the Coming Soon Menu.  I bought some candy melts on Saturday.  I am looking forward to having a play with them.
I also have lots of plans of things to do with Mary-Jane over the Holiday Weekend.  I want to decorate eggs with her, construct Easter Baskets and have an Easter Egg Hunt in the garden.  Weather permitting of course.  Fingers crossed for a day like today. If the weather is good, I'd like to take her to the beach and have an ice cream.  I think I may be pushing it too far to say that I'd like to have a picnic.  I also want to plant some herbs with her.  I will put them on the kitchen windo ledge, and cover them wiht plastic cloches, otherwise they will never withstand the 'pruning' by the cats.  Only old Bob is allowed up there.  In fairness, the others jump down from there when they see me, especially when I reach for the wooden spoon.  Ahem.
Lots to do, let's see what gets achieved and what prevents it!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Hectic Weekend

The last few days have been busy and involved a fair bit of running around and 'doing'.  It started Saturday.  I had only arranged to meet someone for a coffee, taking perhaps an hour and half, two hours tops.  Plenty of time left in the day to bake some bread.  I had read in Paul Hollywoods 'Bread' what would be an ideal size tin for bread.  I had exactly the size given, but it is my tattiest tin, the non-stick is not even there is some places.  I guess I am hanging onto it because I've not yet got another one to replace it.  I asked Mum in the morning if she had one a similar size.  She hadn't.  At the end of a very long and convoluted day, (most of which isn't really for here) I still didn't have a new tin-for-bread-only tin.  Mum had bought a Silverwood 12" multi size pan with two extra dividers, which could of course be used for bread.  It will come in very handy and be very useful and I'm excited that I may have a chance to use it. 
Sunday I took Mary-Jane to Messy Church at the Methodist Church in Gosforth.  I was quite wary of this, even though it sounded like fun.  I was on my guard that this might be a way of 'introducing' me to the Church.  This is a very sensitive subject for me, probably more sensitive than what I realise.  The Nuns at the Convent have so much to answer for.  I took Mary-Jane down and boy did we have fun!  The Messy Church was free and there was so many activities for MJ to do - reading, colouring, playing 'kitchen', baking bread rolls, using playdoh, decorating small cupcakes, decorating eggs, face painting, making easter cards and making pictures with tissue paper!  Wow!  And then we had lunch, with cakes - the ones that the children had decorated.  After that there was an Easter Egg Hunt in a wonderful garden of a 'church lady'.  Mary-Jane found two eggs.  On our way home MJ was given two mini creme eggs and two mini Lindt chocolate rabbits.  It was a fantastic two hours.  The only religeous part of it was when we were waiting for the lunch to be put out.  There are two main rooms - the Church and the Church Hall as such.  We were sat in the Church and a visiting Reverend told a bible story of Easter and two songs were sung.  The story was pitched a little above the older childrens head, I thought, but they got the jist of it.  The age ranges were from a babe in arms to about 8 or 9 ish.  I will definitely take Mary-Jane again.  It's on three or four times a year.
Sunday afternoon we managed to 'win' a fish tank and supplies from Freecycle.  We went to collect it Sunday afternoon.  It turned out to be from a Knitty Lady that I know, and haven't seen since Gosforth Show, so it was nice to have a quick catch up.
Monday morning first thing I hot footed it to Lidl in Whitehaven to get MJ a Balance Bike, they had them on offer that day.  I got there for 9am.  They were already sold out.  I was so disappointed.  The store assistant was very helpful and rang around other stores for me, but without joy.  She took my number and said she would ring me if any of the other stores in the group had any left. 
Then it was off to Tesco.  I  wanted to talk to Customer Services about some sausages that I had bought last week.  They were on offer - £1 instead of £2.15.  They had gone through the till at full price.  I hadn't noticed till I got back, then rang the 0846 number to hear a recorded message saying that I should take the product and reciept back to the store and they would double the difference.  Customer Services said they couldn't do this as the sausages were on offer when I bought them, the offer had finished and there was no way they could verify that they were on offer.  I said that I couldn't have returned them on the day (also the last day of the offer) as it was not worth a nearly 20 mile round trip for the princely sum of £2.30.  I said I would never have bought them if they were full price. Still No refund.  However the chap did give me the direct phone number of the stores Customer Services, so that if it happened again, I could ring, speak with them, get the situation clarified, and there would be a credit note waiting for me.  Next time.  Hmmph.
I managed to get back for about 10.15 and was due in Gosforth to meet Helen for a cuppa at The Hungry Parrot.  I do enjoy the cuppas and chats with Helen.  Just what I needed after a hectic weekend.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Double Chocolate and Ginger Steamed Pudding with Banana Ice Cream

Double Chocolate and Ginger Steamed Pudding with Banana Ice Cream.  Not the best flavour combo, but not a bad one.  It is a fairly quick desert, especially when you need a 'comfort pud'.  The pudding is a variation of the Chocolate Poppity Ping Pud

The Pudding
  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 100g chocolate chips
  1. Grease a 2 pint/1.2 ltr pudding basin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time
  4. Add half the flour mixed with the cocoa powder and ginger, mix, add the milk, mix, then add remaining flour.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Turn mix into the pudding basin, put a loose cover over it (greaseproof paper) and put in microwave on high for 3 1/2 - 4 minutes depending on the micro wave watt
The Ice Cream
  • 4 frozen bananas, previously cut into inch strips
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Put all ingredients into blender and whizz until smooth.  I found that it was better to let the bananas stand for 20 mins or so to defrost rather than using them straight from the freezer.  The coldness of the bananas should freeze the buttermilk.  I put the ice cream in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes, which made it similar to a soft scoop.  I am leaving some in overnight to see if it firms up any more.
I think this recipe may have potential, especially as a quick recipe.  I may try it with cream instead of buttermilk.  I have also come across a similar-ish hot cross bun ice cream, when I have tried and tested this, I'll let you know!

Summer Stripes Top

I finished MJ's Summer stripes top a couple of days ago.  The colours are pretty - and right for spring/summer.  I do like this design.  I will see if I can vary it a bit.
Mary-Jane likes her new princess top.  All tops that she likes at the moment are princess tops/dresses.  It will be good for her if the weather ever breaks and we get some warm weather.  I'm not holding my breath.  I am pleased that she is finally happy again to wear woolies.  Around her neck is her Special Treats Bag.  She has this on when she get her special treats - chocolate and sweets etc - from Granma.  Her treats go in the bag, she wears the bag and is a happy girl.

Last night I started a Ruffled Top by Elena Nodel, again the pattern is freely available on Ravelry.  It's going alright at the moment. I don't envisage any problems with it as it is quite straight forward.  I'm thinking that pretty soon I may need a break from MJ clothes, I think the last four things I have done are for her.  Maybe I just need to do something a bit more challenging for her.  I don't want to stop whilst she is happy to wear woolies.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Bread.  I bit the bullet and decided it was high time I made some bread without the use of the Bread Maker.  I didn't have much confidence in this area and this is the main reason I have been putting it off.  No longer.  I have been much spurred on by my success today.  I don't have grand visions of bread making, but now I know I can make bread. And make bread I will.  Without bias, this tastes so much better than any shop bought bread.  I want to experiment a little, try different things and see how I improve along the way.
The texture of the bread (or crumb, as a certain Mr Paul Hollywood, leads me to believe it is called), seems quite good to me.  I had this particular one buttered with cheese. Lovely.

Mary-Jane helped out a little, she will help more next time when I am not so uptight.  I plaited the loaves for a reason - when I was little, this is how I was allowed to play with and shape the dough, so this is what Mary-Jane will learn.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Swirly Skirts and Summer Stripes

I finished the Swirly Skirt for Mary-Jane some days ago.  She does like it and is happy to wear it - it was a bit touch and go whilst I was making it.  She looks beautiful in it.
I was trying to get a shot of her mid 'princess twirl', that was quite tricky, especially when she wants me to princess twirl as well!  However, I don't think I did too bad at catching the movement of the skirt.
MJ has re-discovered Grandad's Rocking Chair.  She loves it.  I believe she may be the fifth generation, perhaps the sixth to use it.

I am having a day or two off baking.  I did make some spicy carrot soup.  I have had a portion and HK has had two.  Today I've frozen another three big portions, so the bag of carrots has stretched very well!  I would do a bit more freezing of soup and veg, if I had more freezer space!  I do have a few egg whites in there from my recent frenzy of curd making.  I am planning to make italian or swiss meringue topping for cupcakes, or even do an Angel type cake where egg whites are needed.
Yesterday I got my copy of Ruth Clemens - The Pink Whisk - Cake Making book.  I had it on pre order from Amazone, due out in May, but the publication date was bought forward so now I have it in my grubby paws.  I have had a good look through the book, and I like it.  I like the angle it comes from, the hints and tips.  I am eager to try out a few recipes.  I think Manchester Tart with bananas is top of the hit list.  I have promised HK another Pumpkin Pie over the weekend.  Never trust a skinny baker!
Knitterati was on Tuesday.  I got my head together with another lady and we talked knitting, various projects and knit a longs.  She showed me her yarn that she had recently bought.  I haven't really been round much yarn lately that I was accustomed to (all the top end stuff) so it was a real treat for me.  Made me appreciate more what was in my stash - and made me want to stash surf again, just to look through pretty things.  I do appreciate all my yarn so much more this past year or two.  I am so glad that I was an impulse buyer and that I stocked up the last year I was working, knowing that I was heading for a long 'dry' spell. 
I cast on another 'Tango Tank' for Mary-Jane, I'm calling it Summer Stripes.  I am using Sirdar Summer Stripes, in pinks and greens.  I have three 50g balls.  I think if I'm lucky I might get away with just two balls, if not I will only need to break into the third for a few yards. Then I need to decide waht to do with the stray ball!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Scones - A Disaster and a Triumph

I have been making scone over the last few days.  Two batches.  The first was Baileys and Choc Chip Scones, the recipe is by Ruth Clemens aka The Pink Whisk and can be found here.  If you like Baileys, (or any Irish Cream Liqueur) I would highly recommend them - and have them topped with thick cream, I used extra thick double cream.  I tried using chocolate spread, as recommended in the recipe, but I found this over powered the Baileys.  These are a decadent Afternoon Treat - you can be very naughty in public and no-one will be none the wiser!
The same cannot be said for my second lot of scones - Mary Berry's Raspberry scones.  Disaster.  I put the scones in the oven for 12 out of the 15 minutes, giving me food that is nearly fit for the gods (burnt to you and me).  With my usual scone recipe I bake them for 9 - 10 minutes.  Then there is the 4 tsp of baking powder.  I could actually taste this in the finished scone.  Then the raspberry juice reacted with I don't know what to give a very dark blue/purple colour even before it was baked.  I have heard of this, in a very hazy part of my head, but I'm damned if I can remember what causes it.

I do not have the heart to try this recipe again, unless I modify it (remove all that baking powder for starters).  The idea really appealed to me - the scone dough is cut in half and rolled seperately then the  raspberries are put on top of one half and the other dough is laid on top, in effect sandwiching the raspberries. Hey Ho!  Can't get it right every time!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

My First Key Lime Pie

I have been hankering after making a Key Lime Pie for a few weeks now.   I would definitely make it again, though more now and then than frequently.  HK made the suggestion that next time I try it with orange instead of lime and ginger nuts instead of digestives.  I think my next hankering is Baileys and chocolate chip scones, courtesy of The Pink Whisk.

My Key Lime Pie
  • 175g digestive biscuits
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 14fl oz can condensed milk
  • 125ml lime juice
  • finely grated rind of 3 limes
  • 4 large egg yolks
  1. Preheat the oven to 160c/gm3/325f.  Lightly grease a 9" pie dish
  2. To make the crumb crust - put biscuits, cinnamon and sugar into a processer and blitz till fine crumbs, not powder.  Add the melted butter and mix together
  3. Tip the crumb mix into the pie dish and press over base and sides.  Bake in oven for 5 minutes
  4. Beat the condensed milk, lime juice lime rind and egg yolks together in a bowl until well blended
  5. Pour the filling into the crumb base and bake in oven for 15 minutes until set around the edges and wobbly in the middle.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, then cover and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours
  • I might use a few more biscuits next time for a slightly thicker base
  • I use a fan oven so one or two minutes less baking won't go amiss
  • The egg whites can be frozen and used another time, so they don't go to waste
  • I am aware that there are lots of variations for this recipe - try them all out!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thursday Afternoon Biscuits

I'm still running a little tired.  My cough/cold/chest infection seems to be on it's way out. Thankfully.  My IBS and related insides are still doing their merry thing and aren't quite right.  HK is wanting to get out and do some gardening and work on the veg patch.  Mary-Jane is sleeping slightly better (always looking for positives).  She is waking earlier, maybe quarter or half past six and eager to look out of the window at the sheep and the birdies.  It may be time to push her bed time back.  We tried it last Friday and it seemed to work.  We did think it may have been touch and go with her as she may have been over tired when we did put her down, but she had a good night.  Tonight she has new bedding on her bed, from Granma - Minnie Mouse sheets and for the first time, a proper pillow - cushion as she calls it - with Minnie Mouse on.  She also was treated to a Minnie mat.  She was very excited at bedtime, asking to go to bed and jumping up and down.  Then came the tears, soon resolved once her pillow had been put in the position she wanted it in.  So far, so good!

I have been to a friends house this afternoon and baked biscuits.  I cobbled the recipe together, and they came out alright.

Thursday Afternoon Biscuits

Makes about 40
  • 225g softened butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 200g choc chips/chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 170/gm 3.  Line two baking trays
  2. Cream together butter and sugar
  3. Mix in the eggs al little at a time
  4. Stir in flour and cocoa powder until it comes together as a dough
  5. Mix in chocolate  chips
  6. Roll into walnut sized balls and place on baking tray
  7. Bake for approx ten minutes.  Leave on baking tray of five minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
Biscuits will firm on cooling.

Feel tree to mak this recipe your own.  It is just a generic basic one!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

On the way to Woodlands

I remembered to take my camera when I went to Woodlands Knitting Group yesterday.  I stopped at my usual spot on Irton Flats (I have been informed that the place may actually be called Irton Levels, I shall look into this, I am probably wrong).  The blob on the right is dust or something in the workings of the camera that we've not been able to get out yet.

This is looking to the left.  I must admit that I still don't know the names of all the fells.
In the direction of going to Woodlands.  Woodlands is at Santon Bridge.
Looking to the right, so a broken panoramic view
I literally stepped out of the car to this.  If I had been really lazy, I could have just wound the window down to take the shot.
A few yards up and around the corner

It is hard not to be affected by such natural beauty, to be in awe

Bambino Top

I'm a day or two behind with my posts.  I finished MJ's Bambino Top on Sunday Morning and naturally whipped off the one she was wearing and put her in her new one.  She was very happy with it, as was I.  I do like the sleeve straps, certainly a design style/feature to remember.  I love to see her running round in the clothes that I make her.  It is such a shame that I am not in a position to dress-make, if I was my head would certainly be falling off with all the ideas for clothes for her - and for me!

MJ looks quite serious here, but I was doing my best to chase round after her with the camera and snap her in those nano seconds that she stood still.


The pattern is called Tango Top, by Sarah Ronchetti, it is available on Ravelry and Petite Purls.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Of Sheep and Toddler Tops

I have very nearly finished Mary-Jane's Tango Top.  I wanted it done tonight so she could wear it tomorrow.  I am half way through the second shoulder strap, so following that all that needs doing is attaching the straps and blocking the lace hemline.  I don't want to rush to finish it, or stop up late.  It will be done tomorrow and it will be my Mothers Day gift to her.  Then I shall start on her cotton swirly skirt.  Once I have done my WI minutes of course tomorrow night!
I didn't get to freeze bananas today.  We were going to defrost the freezer, it really needs doing and the ice is taking up precious space.  But we didn't get to do that.  I did make a bit of space by cooking a summer fruit strudel.  A slice of which went down deliciously with a big blob of chocolate ice cream.  We also made a massive Shepherdless Pie for tea, for today and tomorrow, and maybe the day after!
Mary-Jane had a really good sleep last night.  She may have wakened during the night but she didn't cry and we had no need to go into her.  I think it did us all some good - and probably made us feel more tired.  Fingers crossed for more similar such nights!
I am in parlez with another knitter, from Kniterarti.   We are talking of doing a knit-a-long, or a project that may challenge us.  One of the contender projects is The Sheep Carousel Tea Cosy by Kate Davies.  I've been rather taken with this pattern since last years Woolfest.  It would be nice to do this with another knitter.  I do miss this kinda thing, I used to do this with Sally, in particular, and others from Stafford Knit Chicks (Hello Sylvia - I miss you too!).  I don't think I have a suitable yarn in my stash, I shall have to see about acquiring some in the next few months.

This is The Sheep Carousel, by Kate Davies.  The image is from the pattern page on Ravelry.

I need to go Stash Surfing.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Sour Cream Pumkin Bundt Cake

The baking offering of the day is Sour Cream Pumpkin Bundt Cake.  The recipe can be found here.  I've had one slice and I'm not overly sure.  It seems over moist, but cooked well enough on the edges.  It was in the oven for long enough - the recommended time, which is generally too long in this oven.  Maybe it needs a little lower for longer, or mixing longer, who knows.  It tastes okay, which it the main thing.
The brown in the middle is a hidden brown sugar streusel filling, quite spicy.

I am planning a Key Lime Pie next.

I am getting on well with MJ's tank top, then end may be in sight tomorrow evening, maybe.  The hem will need some kind of blocking as it rolls up a bit.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A New Tank Top

My knitting for Mary-Jane continues.  I have trawled Ravelry for ideas and tried to marry them to my own personal ideas and what yarn I have available.  I have had a degree of success.  I have cast on a tank top and am ready to cast on a twirly skirt.  I have tried not to think beyond these tow, once I had made the decision to start otherwise it would bog me down terribly and nothing much would actually get done.
The tank top is knit all in one, from the bottom up.  It starts with a 12 row pattern (after a couple of set up rows).  Alternate rows are done in stocking stitch, so during the patterned rows, the tv has been paused, then set off again for the plain rows.  Decreases are made every ten rows, following this.  I have been watching The Great British Bake Off, so nothing overly taxing and it does lend itself to this sort of knitting!
I still have a cold, with lots of crud on my chest.  HK thinks his cold is breaking and poor MJ is still coughing, although I'd like to think not quite as much.  She is sleeping slightly better.  She does get so tired during the day, this frustrates her terribly, being tired.  She doesn't help herself by not  having a rest or a nap on Daddy.
We did get to playgroup yesterday, and I was lucky enough to go to Kniterati in the afternoon.  I worked on the 22.5.2 Degrees Shawl.  This morning, I frogged the whole thing.  The middle point was far too long and the ends were not long enough.  Next time, I shall stick to a more tried method of knitting from one end to the other, increasing to the centre point then decreasing.  And of course I shall try and add a fancy edging to it.  However another scarf is not on the 'Got To Make It Now' list.
The new issue of Baking Heaven arrived with me today.  As usual there are lots of things I want to bake.  If I hadn't been feeling so grotty this morning (I had a bit of a nose dive after being on the go and chasing MJ around for a good few hours), I am sure that there would have been a few cakes and biscuits on the table.  All in the fullness of time.  Perhaps tomorrow I shall find a recipe for a Mothers Day cake to do on Saturday, for Sunday.  I might even try and sneak some time to bake as well.  I am quite tempted by a few featured Scottish recipes and other biscuits.  I have also had the urge to make cake pops.  I am stopped in my tracks by the lack of Candy Melts.  I know I can get these online, and the sugarcraft shop in Workington sells them (well they did a time or two when I was last in, granted that was several months ago).  I cannot justify a trip to Workington just to buy candy melts though!