Monday, July 28, 2008

It's amazing what you find...

... when you tidy up! I cleared out the ottoman today, er, one of the ottomans (ottomen?). This is full of cake boards and boxes, and ribbons and a bit of fabric and a big carrier bag, tied neatly at the top. Couldn't remember seeing this bag so imagine my ecstatic joy when I untied it and discovered this little lot. Woopee doo daa!!!

It's mostly double knitting (oh how I love double knitting) and is a mixture of Rowan and Colinette. There's also some Hipknits, Hand Maiden, Koigu and some very pretty hand-spun stuff. Yummy scrummy! Of course now I just want to knit something with it all - any ideas? Think I might just browse Kaffe Fassett's pattern library and decide on something.

Because you know I have vowed to cast on 4 things this holiday.

One thing has already been cast off and another is very close so things are looking good for number 3 on the list.

I'm going away for a couple of days now to mum and dad's. Will get lots of knitting done there - so will have loads to show you when I get back - scarf, amazing painting, new arrival, more jam and a cake or two (but not the edible sort).

Be good. And don't forget to tidy up, it's amazing what you might find!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday pudding and the return of an old friend

With all the fruit picking that's been going on this week, you could hardly expect anything else other than Summer Pudding could you?

On Friday we were all set to have a barbecue. The table was set, the coal was lit and I was sorting out the salad in the kitchen thinking, 'Hmmmmm, it's getting a bit dark out there'.

And then it rained. We don't normally have monsoon weather here in the Fens, but on Friday night, the monsoons arrived in force. A whole hour of torrential rain, followed by glorious sunshine. Needless to say, we had an indoor barby. Good old British Summers. Don't you just love them?!

If you've been with me for a long time, you may remember this post. Well, I'm sure this is Ding come to say hello to us. Or possible Dang. But then again, he looks remarkably similar to Dong, so who knows! He was enjoying the rain. He obviously didn't have soggy sausages for tea to look forward to!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fireman Sam cake

This has been a nightmare! So fiddly and really quite difficult. However, it's now done and on the whole I'm pleased with the finished result. Hope the recipient will be. It's taken about 17 hours to make and is for our electician's grandson - he charges us about £20 an hour. Wonder what he'd say if I gave him a bill for £340!!!!! Whilst this is not a cheap cake, it's nowhere near that much!

It never ceases to amaze me though that people will pay so much for a child's birthday cake. Special occasion cakes fair enough, but this always seems a bit excessive to me. Not that I'm complaining of course!

I have now decided though that never again will I make a shaped cake. They are a pain in the bum to ice. Give me round or square any day of the week!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fruit picking

Well, I managed to tick another thing off the list! Youngest son was staying with a friend which gave eldest son and myself chance to go fruit picking. (Whilst youngest is quite happy to eat fruit, he is less keen on picking it!) We managed to find a PYO farm fairly near to us in Peterborough, so we loaded the car and headed off for the 40 minute journey.

Now my skills at finding places are legendary. I have the world's worst sense of direction. All street signs were rendered useless yesterday as the trees have grown so tall they are covering every single blinking road sign. We got so lost. So very, very lost. Someone appeared to have moved the A1 (that's a very big road in case you don't know) and hidden most of the little roads too. Whoever would have thought that so many teeny weeny roads existed in Peterborough. I think we found every one.

However, we eventually found the fruit farm (nearly 2 hours and half a tank of petrol later) Here's the strawberry field (ooh, I wish you could smell that smell!). It was lovely there and the strawberries were so easy to pick - hundreds of them, took us just half an hour to pick far more than we needed!

There were lots of other fruits too, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. We had a great time, and got so very sticky (well done mum for suggesting taking a bottle of soapy water).

This is what we picked. And I've used it up already! Strawberries for pudding, blackcurrants in the freezer, and lots and lots of jam. (No more pictures of jam - you must be bored of them all by now).

It is now at crisis point though. I have used my last jam jar. Mind you, as I have now run out of places to store said jam, that's not such a bad thing is it?

Come back tomorrow for a cake picture - it's been a tough one this time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Holiday resolutions

Made more jam yesterday. Very delicious and such a lovely colour. I'm now running out of jars though, couldn't bear it if I actually had to buy jars.

Today was the last day of the school year. I hate this day. Saying good-bye to all the leavers (although to be honest they've been shockers this year!) and staff who are moving onto new jobs. It's very much like new year - rather the end of the old one, if you get my drift. The 6 lovely long weeks holiday are something to really look forward to, so I have made myself a mini resolution list.

  1. Go fruit picking
  2. Make more jam and chutney and marmalade
  3. Cast off at least 3 things
  4. Cast on at least 4 things (yes, I know, I know...)
  5. Tidy up the Stash Basket
  6. Tidy up the airing cupboard
  7. Sew buttons on all my shirts and cardigans that need them
  8. Lose 3 stone
  9. Become more realistic about life
  10. Lose half a stone (see, number 9 is already achieved!)
  11. Cook healthy food for children instead of asking if beans on toast is ok because I want to knit not cook
  12. Visit friends
  13. Phone friends unable to visit
  14. Take children on exciting educational visits (eg cinema)
  15. Win lottery to be able to afford number 14
  16. Buy lottery ticket
  17. Do ironing as it comes off the line
Think that should keep me going for the first week don't you? How about you? Anything exciting planned?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yarn Diet

Way back in February I decided to go on a yarn diet. Things had got out of hand at the Stash Basket and I decided that enough was enough. Too much money was being spent and not enough was being seen in the way of finished knitted thingies. And since then, I promise that I haven't spent a penny on yarn (I do not count knitted jumpers that I can felt as yarn Warren!)

But you know what? The Stash basket is over flowing yet again. And it's brilliant! So many kind people have felt sorry for me and have sent me so much yarn. Fantastic! This latest addition to the collection is from the ever marvellous WMK. It's come with a booklet of patterns, so I don't even need to wrack (rack?) my brains thinking what to make. Perfect!

Of course tonight I should really be making a cake, but oh dear me, I don't have enough margarine so will have to knit instead. How sad.

I urge all of you to go on a yarn diet too. It's done wonders for me!

Oh and Warren? The bet is off. I think it's too unfair that you trusted me not to buy any yarn for 6 months - although I haven't bought any, it's cheating a bit that I still have loads of new stuff in the basket. And I don't cheat.

(You know the card game 'Cheat'? Well I could never cheat at that, always being rubbish at lying, and I always won anyway.) Smug cow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bora Da

Hello everyone, I'm back. Well, what can I say? The funeral was a very wet one - not only did it pour for most of the time, but I cried so much, I was just adding to the already sodden ground. People who know me, know that I am an emotional wreck at the best of times, but on such a sad occasion... well, suffice to say I am now back and life goes on doesn't it?

I shall be more upbeat this week, I have my memories of Non and they are happy ones, I shall never forget him, but for now, we don't want to dwell on sadness do we?

Happy, happy, happy.

And on that note, here's a rather silly cake that I was asked to do. Honestly, it's amazing the things some people request! Michelle is a dental nurse apparently. Ho hum!

Knitting wise, the stripey scarf is nearing completion - and I love it! So soft, such gorgeous yarn and great colours. More of that another day though. Getting very excited here as the Raiders of The Box swap is under way. Wonder when it will arrive here. Wonder what I can put in it. Must go shopping very soon to find something nice.

Also wondering what to cast on next. Really Giulietta, I honestly didn't think I had been casting anything on for ages. You see what a severe case of Startitis I must have? I don't even know I'm doing it anymore! I'm very much in the mood to start something new every single day at the moment. Wish I could finish a few things now and again though!

Tee hee, it's fun being rebellious...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Goodness - in more ways than one

Thank-you all so much for the messages of sympathy about Non. I've seen it written many times before that messages like this help, and now I've experienced it for myself. They really have helped, even though many of them made me cry again. His funeral will be later this week, so posting will be sporadic once again.

But onto happier news. Postie, recognising my sadness, has been very kind to me today. Remember I was looking for this book so I could knit myself a Klaralund? Well, a very kind lady in America sent it to me. And guess what everybody - I love it! And guess what else - I want to knit pretty much everything in it. I am a lost cause - I so hope that a Noro stockist or two will be at Ally Pally because I can see I'll be buying lots and lots and lots! I have started saving like mad and so far have enough to buy about 4 balls of Silk garden! How to earn more money? Anybody know?

I could start selling jam I suppose - my latest craze! (Not sure about posting it though!)

And Good Old Postie brought this today as well. I've wanted a decent sock book for some time, and blimey, this is certainly decent! Hey and guess what? I want to knit nearly everything in it. Just for a change!

Of course my next quandary is which yarn to use - have just grabbed these from the top of the basket. More lurks below I'm sure and more hides in one of the several other places that I secretly hide yarn!

So go on, which should I start with? Haven't cast anything on for ages now and I need to do something productive!

Oh yes, and I forgot to say, the fudge competition. I asked eldest son to pick a number between 1 and 21 inclusive (fortunately he knew what that meant and didn't need it explaining) . So, drum roll please......

Number 20, come on down!!!! (Lesley that's you, I had to laugh, all that creeping worked, even though he didn't even read it!)

Will probably do another thing like this in the holidays. I love making sweets! Almost as much as I love eating them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

For Non

No Saturday Pudding today, although I have made one, feeling very sad and even chocolate is not going to lift me this time.

My father-in-law, Non, as we all called him, passed away today. He has been fighting a long battle against so many things, cancer, emphysaema, heart trouble to name just 3, and today he finally stopped fighting. We shall all miss him - of all my in-laws, he was my favourite. He liked me too and used to love watching me knit, socks on 4 needles had him particularly agog. He had a wonderful time in May for David's 50th birthday, all the family were together and happy. May we all remember him just like that.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's raining again...

So it's July and summer is here and it's raining yet again. So what shall I do? The ironing calls (as it always seems to lately), the hoovering needs doing (but husband is not back today, so no need to panic about that just yet) I have a letter to write, dusting to do (before we all come down with dust allergies) and all manner of other things, before I even start thinking about knitting.

So what shall I do? Someone in the staff room today brought in some fudge (shop bought, mass produced pretty unpleasant stuff) and I got in the mood for making some myself. So I went to Sainsbury's, bought the stuff and started playing in the kitchen.

May I present you with a step-by-step guide to making chocolate and pecan fudge.

Firstly assemble your ingredients - sugar, condensed milk, butter, chocolate and pecans. In a big pan, place 6floz water, the tin of condensed milk, 1 pound sugar and 4oz butter. Please bear in mind that I'm 42 and have not gone metric yet!

Put said pan on the heat and bring to the boil. Then start to boil rapidly, stirring all the time (you don't want this to stick believe me). Carry on until you reach the soft ball stage (see below).

Now this sounds complicated and technical, but it isn't. With your spoon, place a small amount of mixture in a jug of cold water. It should come together and form a soft ball - if it doesn't, just cook it for a bit longer.

This mixture is now very hot - you have been warned! Turn the heat off and stir in 6oz of plain chocolate. Stir like mad being careful not to splash yourself.

Add 40z chopped pecans and stir again. As it starts to cool, it will thicken up. Pour into a square tin (I think this one is about 8 inches square) lined with baking parchment. When it's cold it will be set beautifully and you can cut it into squares and eat it all up.

I would show you the finished product, all cut up and placed in individual teeny weeny paper cases, but it isn't set yet, so I can't.

However, would anyone out there like to try some? Competition time folks! Just leave a comment and I'll draw out a winner later on in the week, sending some to one bloggy person. If you have a nut allergy, don't enter, but as the ingredients don't involve flour, it's gluten free....

No, that's not fair. I'm discriminating against nutty sufferers. If you are nut product intolerant, let me know and I'll make you some fresh stuff without the nuts.

Damn I'm good to you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Perfection is all in the eyes of the beholder

Being a very untidy person married to a very tidy person often creates problems. I'm the untidy one in case you didn't know. My husband - David - has to have everything just so, the inside of the house is always very neat when he's at home (away in London at the moment, so the knitting is allowed to lie all over the house!). The garden is admired by so many people, but little do they know that it drives me nuts!

This is a hedge cum arch outside our back door - these are real trees people!

And here we have another hedge, cut into curves (this is actually needing another trim according to him!)

And yet another hedge, complete with a perfect row of sunflowers in front. We have loads of plants in our garden, it's just that very few of them are allowed to look like plants. Whilst I do like the tidiness sometimes, I often plead with him to leave the hedges alone. But nothing doing! He likes order, and as he does the garden, order is what we get.

But this weekend saw some drastic action was necessary on my part. He took my lovely nubuck shoes and polished them. And I mean polished until they shone so much they were more like mirrors. He could not understand my protestations of absolute horror. In my eyes they were ruined. In his they were just starting to look OK. ('Little more work needed to get them right')

But no matter, I remembered a tip someone once told me - sandpaper. So I've just spent half an hour sanding my shoes down, and they are almost looking like new. Husband is very cross - all his hard work has been wasted.

On the knitting news, here is the thing I started last week. Not as exciting as a hula skirt or even pixie clothes, just a plain old scarf. Based on the one from my new Interweave book, but I only have 50g of each ball, not the 100g called for, so it will be much smaller. And I've done moss stitch not rib. But I'm loving this scarf. And with the weather as foul as it has been lately, I'll be able to wear it before long!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Saturday marked the annual Village Carnival. Every year, the whole village pulls together to make the most wonderful happy day. Floats are made on the backs of lorries, special attractions come and we all have a great time. Even the English weather doesn't put a dampener on proceedings (and gosh did it rain!)

There were some wonderful floats this year (19 of them) but as most of them had children on, I'm not allowed to show you. The theme this year was 'Adverts' so floats ranging from Disneyland to Road safety, Coca-Cola to Tesco's, graced our streets.

Here we have a vintage Fire Engine from Wisbech (as well as the Advert lorries, there is also a vintage car rally, vintage bikes and marching bands).

This particular Marching Band has won competitions all over the place. They were fantastic.

But my favourites of the morning were The Pig Dyke Molly group. Now don't be put off by their scary appearance (they are supposed to look miserable!). Many years ago when the crops had been harvested, the workers had no source of income during the winter, so they formed groups and went around the place dancing to different villages. The idea was that if they looked menacing enough, you would be so scared that they'd rip up your garden unless you gave them money. Pleasant folk the Fenlanders! They were very very good! I gave them money (so did David having spent all Friday tidying the already tidy front garden, he didn't want to risk it!).

After all the excitement of the morning we all headed up to the village field where there was a Sports Day for all the children. A great time was had by all (though I feel many would have enjoyed it more if the pub had been a little closer!) - and the sun shone so much in the afternoon, it was difficult to imagine the dreadful wind and rain of the morning!

Oh yes, and then we all came home for a slice of Saturday Pudding - Chocolate Meringue Pie and strawberries. (A little too sweet even for me, shan't be having this one again.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Casting on again...

Now you really didn't think I'd be able to wait for long did you? I've not cast anything on for ages and ages, so faced with all the loveliness of yesterday, temptation was just too strong. Can you guess what it is yet? (I had fully intended finishing Trudie by next Monday, but just couldn't wait to use my new silk and alpaca!)

In other news, have you seen that this lady is holding a very generous giveaway? You can win yarn, people. And not just any yarn, Posh Yarn!!!!! And Hipknits Yarn!!!! And a lovely, most gorgeous mini quilt. It's all there for the winning (the everso slightly insane VC is raising money by going on a long walk wearing a blue bra) I wonder what else she'll be wearing. Only time will tell. Good luck Mrs Chicken!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Holiday snaps (not my holiday though)

Look at all this pure unadulterated loveliness. Doesn't it make you swoon? It does me! Mum and dad have just been on holiday to Norway and managed to find some yarn shops. Aren't they clever? (And aren't I clever too Warren as I didn't have to pay for it!) (and as you all know, I only said that I wouldn't actually BUY any yarn until Ally Pally!) There is this alpaca and silk (project already lined up for this one... startitis again, but who cares eh!)

.... and this beautiful fine alpaca which is just screaming stripey socks to me...

... and this baby silk alpaca which I haven't quite decided on yet, but meantime is great for stroking.

Now you'd think I'd be grateful for all this yes? Well I was until mum and dad told me that they actually came home with some of their spending money in tact. They didn't spend up. Why I wonder don't they go back and see what other colours they can find in this gorgeous yarn? Mum is all for it, looking through the holiday brochures as we speak. Hmm, dad has suddenly gone quite pale!

Here's my mum in Norway, and below is my dad. Loving the look of the scenery there. Have just had another great idea. Maybe I could go with them next time! Any body else want to come and see if we can use up some of dad's spare cash?!!!! (Hastily ducking from my father here!)

It wasn't all serious yarn purchases though - they got me these incredible warm socks (my feet are permanently cold)

and this fantastic hat...

Didn't I say just the other day that I never look normal on a photo? And as if to prove a point, here I am!