Friday, 28 September 2012

When life hands you lemons ...

... brew up and bake lemon cake

Back from a couple of weeks in the South of France where the weather was not as good as we had hoped - the Mistral blew with all its might but we managed plenty of sight-seeing and wine tasting ....

Coulliore - very picturesque but a serious work out walking up the hill to the car park!

Fort de Salses - the original border between Spain and France - an amazing fort and the most fab lady gave us a very informative and funny talk

Carcasonne - like a fairy-tale city but pretty busy even in September


Unfortunately, we didn't win the Euro Millions so we weren't able to go shopping for a chateau or even a lovely property like these in Leucate Village

Loved the colours and the murals on this one ..

This was my first holiday in 6 years and it was just wonderful to be away from work.  Unfortunately, it's been a short but long week at work and I'm back to the travelling on Sunday.  

I have managed a bit of crochet - more in my next post but mostly I just read and admired the view and the warmth of the sunshine - a rare and much missed element of our Summer this year.  

Hoping that life is good for you in your worlds.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

For the love of crochet..

.. Couldn't resist this snappy little purchase from the Children in Distress charity shop .. 75p back in 1977 and 50p in 2012 - crochet patterns hold their value quite well..

not so sure about the fashions though :)

The evenings are starting to get a little chilly - perhaps I need one of these instead of my pjs to lounge in?

Something for the bad hair days..

Ooer, Mrs, not sure about thisone - would have to make it our of wire to hold up the ample boobage me thinks..(and make it three times as wide!)

Where did women put their boobs in the 70s?  

Ah, but the appeal of the granny square never diminishes, despite being called and Exotic Counterpane (slight hangover from the 60s going on here I think)

Anyone fancy making one of these?  Little Granny Riding Hood...

See, the Granny Square - timeless and fabulous

I've done no crafting this week although I have made good progress with the craft room - can actually get in there but not sure where I'm going to put all the excess stuff that is currently resting on Will's bed.  He's back on Monday so I have two days to come up with a solution.  Loft conversion maybe?

I'm back on my travels next week to Finland so I'm looking forward to some hooky time with a little cotton cot blanket (and well prepared for the ridicule that will be unleashed by my travel colleague - men just 'don't get it' on the whole but he's used to me dragging yards of yarn out of my computer bag while he watches film on his ipad).  

Happy weekend to you all.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Lemon and Blueberry Sponge Cake Recipe

As promised, albeit a tad later than I had planned here's the recipe for the cake from the last post.

4 eggs
225g self-raising flour
100g good quality baking margarine
125g softened unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
Finely grated rind of a large lemon (optional)

Line 2 x 8 or 9inch cake tins with baking parchment.
Preheat Oven to 180C (170 for fan ovens) and since my new oven is very fancy dancy I selected the top and botton heat and no fan - get me!)

Cream the butter, margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  I have a Kenwood food processor but prefere to do this with the electric hand whisk (not entirely by hand as taught by Mrs Baker at Grammar School, tut tut).  Whisk in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour if the mixture looks like it is about to curdle.  Once all the eggs are incorporated fold in the flour and the grated rind with a metal spoon.
Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for approx 25 mins.  This will depend on your oven but basically until they are golden and spring back when pressed. Cool on a wire rack.

I basically make this up as I go along but for this particular cake I used Bon Maman Wild Blueberry jam and made a frosting out of half and half softened butter and cream cheese (one small tub).  I added lemon rind and sifted icing sugar until I reached the right consistency and level of sweetness.  I  have no idea how much I used though. 

When the sponges are cool spread one with jam and the other with the frosting, sandwich them together and dust with icing sugar.  Make youself a big fresh brew, cut a generous slice, put your feet up and sample your results - after all, the quality assurance testing is vital!

You can use different jams, omit the lemon, use orange rind, add fresh berries and use cream or a combination of whipped double cream and custard (extremely yummy and perfect with strawberry or raspberry jam - an upmarket Victorian Sponge - if Queen Vic could ever be considered down market).


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Oven love

I am the proud owner of a very fancy dancy new multi function oven - who knew such things existed?  The rest of the kitchen may still be a bit topsy turvy but I just had to try it out....

... it had to be cake!

I stood and watched it rise in my shiny new oven with absolute pleasure :)

Lemon Sponge with blueberry jam and lemon creamcheese frosting. 
(that has to count as 2 of the 5 a day, surely?)

Not very artistically done but my kitchen is still a work in progress and has the old oven plonked on the floor at the moment
It is now at work waiting for Elevenses to come round...

Yummy, scrummy, cake.
Hope you have time for cake and a cuppa today.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sorting and folding ...

... will it ever end?  I feel like I have been 'sorting' my house for years and never getting anywhere.  The whole house is in upheaval at the moment as I'm rearranging the kitchen to accommodate a new built in oven (yippeee) so of course, the dining room is a mess too.  The only rooms in the house that are OK are the bathroom and my bedroom - guess I'll just have to enjoy long baths and early bedtimes!

However, I am making progress in the 'craft room' (ignore the fact that all the potential car boot stuff is in the other two bedrooms) I spent a happy hour or so sitting on the floor sorting and folding.  I have a deadline as my youngest will be back soon for a few weeks and I think he'd really like to sleep in his bed!

Hmm, next the pile in the middle of the floor...

I will get there... soon

I only do this to make my big sis feel better.  She too is continually sorting and de-cluttering so I let her come round for a gloat at all my mess and make her feel better - afterall, what are sisters for?

The sun is shining here - go team GB!

Have a great weekend and thanks so much for your comments and hanging in there with me!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

To Paint :)

Thank you ladies, advice taken, to paint was definitely the right decision.

It's still not big enough to hold the complete shirt stash but it did give me great pleasure to place them all in the basket.  Sad?  Probably.

Now I need a little lie down, burning the midnight oil whilst watching the Olympic opening ceremony is not good for me.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

p.s. When one replies to comments on blogger do the postees see the replies or do they have to come back to this page to see them?  See how long I've been gone from Blogland?!

Friday, 27 July 2012

To paint or not to paint?

...  well, there's still quite a lot of Annie Sloane paint left - I've made the lining out of some old Laura Ashley fabric (circa 1985 I think, leftover from an Austrian blind I made for the dining room - that certainly dates it!) but I think the paint may have to come out...

what do you think?


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A little bit of transformation

I"m making progress, slowly but surely...

 from this pile of old shirts which was hanging about on the spare bed for the past 4 months

I sat in the garden last evening taking off the buttons, collars and cuffs so it would be closer to being used.  This morning I patiently ironed, sorted and folded to achieve a nice neat stash of cotton...
(my sister thinks I've gone from hoarder to nutter with serious OCD - but I think she's just jealous of my stash!)

maybe this will help entice my mojo out of hiding.

Then I got the urge to paint this old veg basket.  It's not very nice today - blowy and grey but fine for painting outside.

Now it looks like this....

Lined with leftover quilt wadding and some very, very old fabric from Next which I used for curtains way back in 1985.  When I do make it into the spare/craft room I'll have at least one new storage basket.  

Come on mojo, come out, come out wherever you are!

Hope the sun is shining on you today.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Phew! It's hot!

Well, it's either a feast or a famine - or should I say a downpour or a heatwave.  Who can tell from one day to the next.  I don't know where last week went but I've suddenly found a little surge of energy.  My creative mojo is not quite what it should be so I've been doing other jobs.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things that need doing so I decided to take the same approach I do with the ironing pile:  start at the top and just keep going.

Unfortunately, I picked the wrong time to re-finish my old dining table.  Taking off 23 years of wax and grime by hand in this heat took a fair amount of elbow grease and gave me a good cardio work out into the bargain!  It almost looks line new.

I felt a tad nostalgic as I sanded away all the pen and paint from the countless hours the boys and their friends and cousins spent at the dining table, drawing Sonic the Hedgehog and the Thundercats ad nauseum but I'm in a de-cluttering frame of mind.

My bedroom has had a little makeover - well, just a fresh lick of paint and a bit of a sort out - I EVEN cleared out under the bed AND vacuumed it.  

My youngest son is home from uni for the Summer and he's just said to me "you're just finding random jobs to do".  I protested with a retort 'no, I'm just finally getting round to doing those jobs that have been bugging me for months now'.  However, he may have a point and the reason my creative mojo is on holiday?  
Well, this may shock you so if you are of the faint-hearted disposition look away now as this is the state of my 'craft room':


OMG! I hear you all shriek!  
I couldn't get any further in the room to show you the rest but I think you get the idea?

Everything I've come across so far that was not in its proper home has found a resting place in either the garage or the spare room.  The intention is to get rid of the spare single bed - yes, there is a bed under all of that crap - return my dining room to a dining room and relocate my crafting upstairs.  Now this room has been like this for many months now and is getting worse by the week. I think I may nearly be ready to make a start in here but I might have to have a stiff drink first.  I plan on starting this week so if you don't hear from me in the next week or two send help!

Or maybe I should just take a leaf out this little chap's book and chill out in the sunshine...

What do you think?

Have a great week.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Yoohooo - is there anyone still out there?

I have been a very, very bad blogger, not having posted since last year!!  Crikey, where has the time gone?  I got very bogged down at the end of the year mostly from too much travelling and a heavy workload.  I just didn't have the energy to do much at all except slump on the sofa.

This year has been much better, not so much travel and time to spend at home.  I haven't been very crafty except for making a quilt as a wedding present for a very dear friend.  It was a labour of love, finished 4 hours before the wedding and the cause of many callouses on my finger and thumb.  But well worth the effort as the bride loves it.

My sister is now considering divorce and re-marriage so she too can have a wedding quilt!  I thought that was a bit drastic so have promised her one for Christmas.

I'm now waiting for her decision on colour and patch shape so in the mean time I have been messing about with bits and bobs, not really knowing what to get on with....

Yoyos?  So tiny they look like little puff buttons - no idea what I'm going to do with them.

Maybe some more patchwork?  Use up the leftovers...

Maybe some smaller hexagons......

Ooh, maybe knitting the lovely lace collar in this new Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace book? 

Well, after many attempts and much cursing because I couldn't successfully backtrack. When I made a mistake I had to pull it all back to the beginning so I think I'll just get on with this little baby blanket in simple trebles, made from Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply - so lovely to work with.

And I might make a few more owlets to go with this little parliament.

One more thing to show you which I had forgotten about.  I made this quilt as a Christmas present - a new departure to work in so few 'colours' but was pleased with the result.  It was in chunky wool so it's super warm and soft.

I shan't mention the weather - what can I say?  Garden has gone bonkers, veg patch is a washout but it made for some very interesting footwear at the wedding as the marquee was flooded...

but every cloud and all that....

One of three stunning rainbows we had amidst the hail, torrential rain, thunder, lightning and sunshine.  Just think we were lucky not to end up with foot rot!