Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Spicy Cinnamon Apple Bundt

Roll of drums....... I have baked today!  A spicy cinnamon apple bundt.  It is the first time (that I can remember) using a proper bundt tin.  I have used a silicone one with disasterous results when it came to turning out.  This one about flew out of the pan.  It has a warm spicy taste to it.  I need to tweak the baking time to suit the size of the tin and the oven, for next time.  It's on my Make Again List.  Try it out for yourself!


Spicy Cinnamon Apple Bundt

250g plain (all purpose) flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
100g butter
350g apple sauce/puree
2 tbsp treacle
150g sultanas
  1. Preheat oven to 180c/gm4.  Grease and flour a fluted or straight sided bundt tin (tube pan)
  2. Sift flour, bicarb, cinnamon, allspice and salt.  Set aside
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the apple sauce and treacle
  4. Gradually add flour to mix and beat well to moisten.  Fold in sultanas
  5. Pour into prepared tin. 
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven for approx 45 minutes, test with skewer.  Cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on wire rack
I used a teaspoon of allspice and found that, as nice as it was, it over powered the cinnamon.  You could try just cinnamon, or use ground cloves instead of the allspice.  Have a play.

I could have done with turning the temp down by 10 or maybe 20 degrees c and keeping in for another five minutes or so.  Knowing your oven is always good!

I suppose a different cake pan could be used, baking times may need to be adjusted

I used a 6 1/4" bundt tin

A Big Box

A parcel arrived today.  A very big box.  The pop bottles in the background are two litre ones, just to give it some perpsective.  So what may is being delivered in such a gargantuan box?


This was.  Honest.  Talk about over size!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tea Party, Planting Bulbs and a Short Trip To Egremont


Mary-Jane has been playing at Tea Party today.  She has played for a fair few hours with it, on and off.  She was given the set today and has been quite taken with it.  Everybody has had several cups of tea and joined in the Tea Pary, including Mr Snuggles. 

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Mary-Jane has also planted her first bulbs - narcissus, with help from Granma.



I managed to take Mary-Jane to Play Group this morning.  Very pleased with myself that I did this and even more pleased that Mary-Jane went.  She had a fun time and was the least clingy she has been.  In fact I wouldn't really be able to say that she was clingy.  It did take it's toll on me though.  I was very tired when we got back.  Achey all over like you are when you have flu or something along those lines. 
After lunch I had to pop to Egremont to get the mid week bread and milk.  As soon as I got back, Mum wanted to see if the wool shop was open, so I u-turned and went back to Egremont.  The Wool shop wasn't open, but will be tomorrow.  We paid a visit to the Tat shop (Age UK charity shop).  I found a few treasures, including a cross stitch of 'Twinkle Twinkle little star' - all stitched and framed and ready for Mary-Jane's bedroom wall, where it is now hanging.  I also found an old butter knife which will have a new life as a palette knife for my sugarcraft and cake decorating.  I also picked up a book for HK.  Winners all round.
As for my sugarcraft classes.  As you can probably half guess, I didn't go tonight.  I was way too tired.  I think this week was week five.  I now need, as I've said before, to clarify this and see if it worth me going for the rest of the term, which may be only another five weeks.  Difficult one.  the next term is in September, so it is quite a while to wait.  However I do have the monthly meetings of the Sugarcraft Guild to help me along my way.  I also need to step up my practice of all things sugarcrafty and cake decorating (and baking).  All in due course at the moment.  Practice make perfect!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Normal Service Is Resuming For Me

The first few days back were, are very much a blur.  The stairs were so difficult to climb.  I was almost hauling myself up by the bannisters, one step at a time.  My legs have been very weak.  Walking even small distances around the house have been enough to tire me and to warrent 'a rest'. The days continued to be rounds of sleeping, trying to eat and drink sufficient and taking medication.  After a few days, I was improving.  I was taking things steadily, pushing myself to do more.  I am nearly about back to normal.  I was so gald to be back around HK and Mary-Jane.  I had missed them sorely.  I still am not fit enough to change MJ, get her up and put her to bed.  I am there though.  In the next day or two, I will be resuming normal duties.
Knitting restarted a few days ago.  I am working on the Gull Baby Blanket.   I am perhaps six or so rows off half way.  I have done quite a lot today, and to be truthful, am ready to put it down at least for tonight.  I must not start anything else or the blanket is likely to fall into the UFO catorgary (UnFinished Object).  I have been treated to some James C Brett Monsoon to do the cardi in Yarnwise that I have been hanging my nose over.  I have also been treated to some darkish rose pink 4 ply cotton, that is destined to be either a summer cardi or a waistcoat.  I have moved the yarn out of our front room so it is not a temptation to me whilst I slog on with the Gull Blankie.
My main goal for this coming week is to take Mary-Jane to play group on Tuesday.  Lesser goals include going to Sugarcraft Class.  This may be put off till next week, depending on how I feel after playgroup as it is on the same day.  I am also aware that sugarcraft is half way through it's term.  I need to see where things are with projects.  Obviously I don't have time to play catch up (do I?) although there may be two or three projects planned for the term. 
I also want to cook more, see to Mary-Jane more and maybe, just maybe, do a small amount of baking.  This may spill into next week.  So far, I have managed to do the (much scaled down) weekly shop, and be very grateful to be able to cling onto and push the trolley!  We went to Gosforth Library on Saturday morning, with me driving in the snow.  Tonight I made Mary-Jane's tea and my own - HK had sandwiches, which he makes himself.  Normal service is coming back.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Illness - Hospital

How long have I been saying that I have been feeling off the hooks (unwell)???  Weeks and weeks.  And this time I have been proper poorly.  Not seriously I hasten to add, though.  But bad enough.  Sunday the 13th, in the afternoon, I took a nose dive.  I didn't feel well at all.  Rapidly.  I went to bed in the afternoon and not far off stayed there.  As the evening and night progressed I felt worse and worse.  I was sweating profusely and had such pain in my abdomen.  Sharp, shooting pains that came in waves, almost as bad as labour pains.  I thought about going to the hospital in the night it was that bad.  In the morning, HK got onto the GP's surgery first thing and got me an appointment late morning.  The GP's verdict was to go to the local hospital to the Nurse Practitioners Unit to get checked out.
After a few hours of being poked and prodded, I was cannulated and hooked up to a saline drip.  The decision had been made to keep me in.  There was no bed free, so I was taken up to Accident and Emergency to wait in one of their beds.  I was deemed to need an actual bed, rather than wait in a chair.  Luckily I had not been in A&E no more than five minutes when a bed became free on the Emergency Assessment/Treatment Ward.  I was bundled into a wheelchair, along with my drip and taken to a bay on the ward around half past five.
I have had bloods taken, had a saline drip, been given very strong IV antibiotics for 48 hours, then changed to oral, I have had a CT scan and an pelvic ultrasound scan.  I have been poked and prodded and vomitted.  I have been bounced between the Surgical team and the Gynae team.  The cause of my pain has been put down to a very bad infection.  The source or origin of this infection remains unknown.  A mystery.  I still have some awareness of a dull ache where the pain was.  I have finished the anti-biotics.
I was discharged on Friday tea time, when both teams decided that what ever it was wrong with me, was nothing to do with them.  I was responding to medication, so I was sent on my way.  I could hardly walk.  I shuffled painfully and slowly off the ward, down the stairs and into the cold night air.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


I've been in unwell.  I've been in hospital for a week, home for a few days. Lots to tell when I'm up to it!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Relaxing Morning

At last, some pictures of the Grace Beret.  I don't know if the centre is supposed to sit like this, I thought it would have been flatter.  It looks okay and is quite warm to wear.  HK took the pictures this morning.



I have frogged the Gull Baby Blanket.  I had done enough to measure the width and I was way way out with my calculations - by at least 13".  The blankie was 39" instead of 26".  I really don't know what I was thinking about when deciding the stitch numbers.  The pattern said 123 on 5mm, so what ever posessed me to do 193 on 3.5mm, I really don't know.  I now have 137 stitches, which shold bring it out at around 27".  I have one more row of the border to do now before the main lavce pattern starts.  At least the rows are nearly 1/3 shorter.  Should get it done quicker.
I still want to do the cardi jacket in this months yarnwise.  And I want to do it in one colour, not in stripes.  I am sourcing yarn, and alternative yarns.
MJ and I were due to go to Penrith today, to have a look around the shops.  I took the last minute decision not to go as I thought it might get too cold for MJ.  It was due to be sunny but cold - 2-4c (I think that is about 37f).  Instead we had a very relaxing morning in the house, just the three of us.  HK cleaned the chickens out.  Mary-Jane and I played in the kitchen and had lots of fun.  The three of us managed to sit at the kitchen table together to eat lunch.  I cannot remember the last time we did that, or were able to do that.  It was more than pleasant, I must say.
Mary-Jane didn't have the best of nights.  She woke up crying twice, where we had to go into her.  But she had a lie in in the morning!  I didn't wake up until a quarter to eight! Now that is something else I have not done for a while, and no raging headache (just a dull one that went on it's own).

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Cloth Free Project

I have finished my cloth run for now.  I have started making a baby blanket for a lady at playgroup who has just announced  she is expecting her second baby in June.  This lady has always been very friendly and welcoming to me.  Apart form being happy for her news, I, being a knitter, saw an opportunity to knit.  I don't want to do anything overly fancy or too many items as we are not best buddies or anything like that.  I do want to grab the chance of doing something pretty.  I have slightly adapted the pattern from one on Rav, which has inturn been borrowed from Elizabeth Zimmerman.  I have cast on 193 stitches in a white 4 ply acrylic.  Nine stitches either side form a border.  The main body is a four row repeat of EZ's Gull stitch, which is used in the baby ietms in February of the Knitters Almanac.  I have done nine ridges in garter stitch before starting the Gull Stitch.
I have also seen a pattern for a cardi in this months yarnwise that I like.  I have the yarn to do it, but would probably have to do it in stripes, which I don't particularly fancy at the moment.
I have been to Fobbles and spent a pleasant morning there, listening to stories and half pouring over some of my new recipe books that I bought to show Di.
My IBS is still very much with me.  I think it is starting to stabilise.  My appetite is still very affected.  I am feel peckish at meal times but the thought of eating (or making) a normal evening meal really puts me off.  It's a vicious circle.  I don't feel quite as bloated. I do have tummy/gut spasms at the drop of a hat or the mention or thought of anything vaguely stressful.  I believe it will take longer than I originally anticipated to get over this one.  Such a shame I couldn't get a GP appointment when I tried, instead of having to wait for three or four weeks.  I'm sure it wouldn't have been this bad.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Having a walk in the sunshine

My first busy day in a while!  Our day started just before 5am, with Mary-Jane.  In her credit, she did manage to settle for nearly an hour on our bed, before she started pulling the divet down demanding that we get up.......
The morning was actually sunny, not quite crisp, but sunny, no rain and no wind.  I grabbed the opportunity and took Mary-Jane for a walk down Nursery Road.  This road is at the back of the house and leads to Beckermet.  Mary-Jane insisted on taking her pram - buggy as she calls it.  She did very well pushing the buggy until about half way when she decided that it would be much more fun and entertaining to just run as fast as she could.


I tell her to keep to the side of the road, in case of cars coming (sometimes they drive a bit fast and there is no pavement whatsoever).  She is still learning to steer her buggy and in going to the side, she sometimes over shoots!
This is the view looking back.  The side of the building by the van is the barn, which may be renovated this year, we shall see.
This is a sideways shot, as such.  In the background is Sellafield Nuclear Power Station.
Looking down Nursery Road towards Beckermet.

This afternoon HK had to sign on in Cleator Moor.  After this was my eye appointment.  It was just a regular eye test.  I know need a new pair of glasses.  Varifocals.  I always (wrongly or rightly) had the misconception that only old people had varifocals.  My distance eye sight has not deteriorated any, but my close up sight has.  I could have just done with a pair of glasses for reading and close up stuff.  But because I knit and watch TV (apart from when doing lace knitting) I need close up and far away eyes at the same time, hence the varifocals.  I knew I can't knit and not watch TV.  So the new glasses will be ready in a week or so.  All that took an hour to do and sort out.  All the while HK and Mary-Jane were outside in the car waiting for me.
This evening was WI night.  Our Speaker spoke on hand and nail care.  I did learn things and practial new to me ways of looking after my hands and nails.  I did try the demonstration and my hands are much softer.  Perhaps I should keep it up.  It was a good meeting to start the new year off.  We have generated some interesting ideas for crafty doings as well.  Much to be worked on.
And now I am jiggered!  I have had some toast and chocolates, all without taking a tablet, and my guts are starting to tell me this. Bah!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Day time snoozing continues

We went to Gosfoth Library today.  I was going to take my camera, it a beautiful old building.  We were in a bit of a rush and a tizz when we left the house.  There had been a hiccup with HK's benefit payments and it had to be sorted.  Naturally I went from 0 - Stressed in 3.5 seconds.  It was nothing at all to be worried about and everything is on track.  Phew.
I like going to the library.  Mary-Jane likes it too.  Her good manners were commented on today, I glowed.  I usually get baking related books out.  Due to the amount of books I got for Christmas and my temporary tummy turningness when I think about most foods, I came away empty handed.
After lunch I was getting a wee bit of a headache.  I didn't think I was particularly tired.  It seemed one of those headaches that can only be slept off.  I tried to put my head back on the sofa (usual day time snoozing position) and have ten minutes.  Mary-Jane didn't think that was a good idea, so HK suggested that I lie down on the bed, at least I would get some peace and quiet to focus on getting rid of the headache.  I went upstairs to lie down.  Two hours later I woke up!  I did feel better for the sleep, mind.
I have finished my oak leaf cloth and have started The Meadow.  I did intend this to be the last cloth.  I may have a dig in my drawers to see what cotton yarn I have in there and do some lacy cloths.  No big cardi type project is springing into my mind yet, no Eureka! moment is popping in my head.  Cloths it will have to be.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Knitting Musing

Another house day, due to the weather.  Mary-Jane and I did some baking, we made princess cakees.  Princess because there are disney princesses on the box.  We had fun and the cakees came out well.
I have been trying to match yarn to patterns.  I cast on some Jaeger Celeste to make a vest type top.  It got frogged on the third row.  I don't like knitting with it, it came out really tight.  Best quit with that whilst I'm ahead.  I have someone in mind to offer it to.  It's not often at all that I try to re-home yarn, but this one has to go.  One of my stumbling blocks with doing the matching, is that I don't know if I have enough yarn to complete the project.  Always a bit of a problem.  Perhaps I shall leave these proposed projects for when I am feeling a little more maverick.  I was thinking of frogging a cardi I made four or five years ago, re-knit it and give it a new lease on life.  The jury is still out and the cardi is still complete.  Cloth knitting will continue at present but I'm getting a little bored and need a change.  I need to get thinking quickly!  I may give the EZ three lace shawl another go, or even one of the other shawls.  However I do need a 'TV' project on the go soonish.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

First Trip of 2013 To St Bees Head

We had our first trip of the year to St Bees Head.  There was a small break in the weather, I wanted to make the most of it.  Mary-Jane was more than excited to finally be going to the cafe by the seaside and having chocolate ice cream.  We managed to get a window seat, which please MJ even more.  The tide was nearly fully in, not quite ready to turn.  The sea wasn't choppy but the waves seemed big.  Or was it because I've not been up close to the sea in too long?!
Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed her chocolate ice cream, and the whole experience of being there.  The cafe was quite busy, with lots of children.
I had already decided that it wasn't a beach day.  The gusts of icy winds served to confirm this.  We took a walk along the grass to the play area.  The grass was wet and soggy.  MJ wanted to go on the swings first.  There are two lots of swings, one with safety swings for toddlers and the other set have normal swings.  The toddler swings were being used, so we braved the big girl swings.  MJ knew she had to hold on to the chain, but hadn't quite fully grasped this concept.  She loved it.
Swinging her and holding onto her wasn't the easiest thing
Luckily there was a slide as distraction.  MJ mastered the steps with ease.  The bit at the top seems long, a few steps, which I think is good for young children, they can get up the steps then get ready to slide with plenty of room.  Here is MJ atop the slide with Granma.
Seeing if Mr Snuggles is ready to slide
And off they both go!

Did I mention there was a bitter wind? It was one of those winds that give you a nasty headache with ten minutes. Like am ijiot I didn't bring a hat with me, me thinking that we were only going from car to cafe and back. In the car on the way back, Mary-Jane was drifting off to sleep, she didn't quite nod off. Back indoors, she had a burst of energy and ran and ran around the house giggling and laughing. Then the tiredness hit. I ended up taking her to bed just under an hour early. She was way past shattered and could do nought but lie down and ask to go to bo-bo's. So up she went. So far (touch wood) I haven't heard a peek out of her. All being well, she will have a good sleep and catch up on all these early mornings she has been having. I can only hope!
I have been carrying on with the cloths. I completed 'Janet's Tea Pot' by Rainy Kimbrough. This pattern was one of the first cloths I made.

I have cast on 'Oak Leaf Cloth' by Knittingheavenonearth.  I have done a little over ten rows.  Then the tiredness hit me and I had to have a power nap.  Ten minutes later, I woke myself up with my snoring.  Early nights shall continue at present.

I do feel a bit brighter today.  I must admit that doing even small tasks leaves me feeling tired and weary, but I push on as much as I can.  I am starting to make small adjustments to my diet.  I am now eating brown bread instead of white.  If all is well with this swap I shall make my own bread as the price of a decent brown loaf is ridiculous - £1.77 for a Hovis multigrain medium sliced.  I also got some dark rye ryvita.  One of the more prominent things that I have noticed that upset my poor delicate tum at the moment is white chocolate.  What a bummer.  Good job I have eaten the bar now and got none left!  I am trying to remember all the things that I cut out before and all the things I did eat.  I know wheat and all dairy products went out the window and that I ate more pulses and beans (and was probably just as windy!)  I'm not quite as bad as I was then, but in reality I'm not too far off.
Baking is still way off the scale.  It did come a step closer in so far as I managed to look through an old baking book.  It is 'The complete cake book' by May Little, reprinted in 1929. I did think of it as a contender book for my 'bake every recipe' venture.  The only drawback is that there are around 200 recipes, not including 21 for making icings.  I could do a section at a time, to break it down into samller chunks.  I shall not dismiss it at present.  The book has no pictures (which helped me look at it, if you know what I mean!).  The preface appealed to me -
'It may seem at first sight that some apology is needed for presenting another book on cake making, as much has already been written on this subject; but I think a book with clear and consice instructions - easy to use by anyone, sure and reliable in it's practical results, and economical - is needed.  I hope this volume will justify itself in all these respects'.  May Little

Friday, 4 January 2013

View From The Sofa

I have pushed myself to 'do' today.  I did a bit and dozed a bit in the afternoon.  Getting there.  I made a quiche and some cheese and mustard pinwheels with the left over pastry.    My appetite is quite poor and not seemingly getting better yet.  For tea, I just had a piece of quiche rather than a full meal.  I also skipped lunch as I wasn't hungry.  This is not me!  I don't feel hungy now, although my insides have woken up and are having a bit of a warm up fight with themselves.
When I was sat this morning, I decided to take some images of 'views from my corner'.  This is looking slightly to the right.  My end of the sofa is diagonally opposite the corner you can see.

This is nearly straight ahead, to the right a bit.  Take note of the colour of the sky outside - it is 10am!!!  Misty rain prevails.  As you can see, Mary-Jane's things dominate the room.  This is our Front Room, where we spend our day.
I have finished my latest cloth - Baked With Love by Rachel Von Schie, available freely on Ravelry.

I have decided to do a few more cloths for the time being.  I have selected a few more picture cloths, and am hoping to do one more in the sage, cream and tea rose.  The three colours do go well together.  I am debating whether to keep them for when we get a place of our own again or to just go ahead and use them.  Decisions decisions!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Cloths and Fomulating Plans

I have  finally mamaged to get an appointment to see a GP today, after waithing around 3 weeks.  He confirmed that I have IBS and that it it is quite bad at the moment, with room to be Worse.  I also am fighting a viral infection which I probably have had for around two months plus.  Hence the run down-ness.  Just got to get myself better now.  I have felt a bit better the last day or two and Positive Mental Attitude helps a great deal.
As my head has been fuzzy, I couldn't even think about what to knit - the next big project - so I fell back upon the trusty cloth.  I haven't knitted one for several months.  I thought to do a couple of picture cloths.  I am on the third one now.  This one is Knitted Tea Cup Cloth by Rhonda White.
This one is Garden Wheelbarrow by Melinda Bergland Burnham.  Both are free patterns on Ravelry.

I have enjoyed doing them.  The third, which I'm nearly half way through is Baked with Love by Rachel Van Schie. I have done this one before, about three years ago, for a swap.
I am going to continue to Stash Bust.  I will compile a list of all stash busting projects I did in 2012, and the non-stash busting ones.  From now on, I am going to count all projects as Stash Busting unless I buy new yarn specirically for it.  I believe the last time I bought yarn was at the Woolfest, and not much before that, other that some acrylic for Mary-Jane.
I also want to work my way through a Baking Book and do every single recipe in the book.  I ahven't decided yet which book to use.  I am thinking about what sort of book - it won't be just a cupcake book.  I think by half way through I'd never ever want to look a cupcake in the face again.  I want one that will be a bit of a challenge where I can do new things (choux pastry is in there somewhere), plus one that may have a nod to seasonal produce.  I've not had a serious look through my books for a fitting one, due to me being off the hooks and not being able to concentrate etc, but it will come.
Now I am on Flikr Pro, I also want to post more images.  And knit loads and loads!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy 2013

Happy 2013!  I hope it is all you wish it to be!
I have had more days of unwellness, with a raised temperature and all the lovelies that go with it.  Luckily not a full blown fever.  IBS is still raging.  Generally feel on the mend.  Moan moan moan. I spent New Years Day in bed :-(
In the meantime.  I have knitted two cloths and have taken pix, will post tomorrow.  I have plans to do at least one more.  More if I can't decide what to knit next.  I am re-kindling my love of cloths - instant knitting gratifacation.
I have plans for re-vamping the blog and am formulating plans for the next year.  Bear with me as ever!