Saturday, November 29, 2008

Very briefly...

Just to say that I'm drowning under a sea of felted jumpers. I have cut them all into usable sized pieces so will spend tomorrow ironing them and then cutting them again. And then sewing them together. And then appliqueing something onto them. And then ironing them again. All this will have to take place after football, after lunch at mum and dad's, after the drive home in the fog, after I've got the children to bed, after I've decorated a cake...

So maybe we aren't looking at tomorrow after all.

Is the excuse 'Sorry I can't come to work today, I need to make a blanket' good enough to let me have the day (week?) off? I think not, do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Blanket Box

I'm seriously thinking of changing my name to Blanket Box instead of Stash Basket. I feel like I'm being slowly buried by blankets - which on such a cold day is no bad thing! Those very nice people at Land's End have sent me loads of jumpers to felt so I can turn them into blankets for St Dunstan's. I have now washed them all and they are just drying. The above photo is a mere quarter of what they sent. (All I need now is a few gazillion hours to transform them into something luxurious... any suggestions anyone?)

Meanwhile, one of the stripey blankets has returned home ready for me to knit a border onto. It's very cosy indeed and is a dream to do the border. So warm. So snuggly. Sadly it's so lovely I just fall fast asleep half way through a row! This may take some time!

I feel that the lady who knitted the brown, yellow and lime stripes is a touch colour blind. She is a very elderly friend of my mum's. Mum had suggested taking those colours out, but they just make me smile. They clash so badly they almost 'go'!! Almost.

The second stripey blanket is still doing the rounds. If it comes to you and you think it's getting too long, please stop and send it back to me (it seems that some balls of yarn have twice as much yarn in than others). I'll start another one going and send it to the next person on the list. Ah yes, that brings me to another problem. The list. What have you done with it Trashy? Shall I make a new one?

And finally, the squares blanket is ready to be sewn up now, so if you have any outstanding 4" squares, please let me have them. I'll be sewing squares up in my spare time! Thanks to Sara whose squares arrived yesterday - they are all gorgeous and as to the small one, no way will I throw it away - it's very stretchy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I know I said that normal service would be resumed 'tomorrow' but it just didn't happen like that. Life got in the way, as it so often does. Well, actually it was football that got in the way. And the weather. And the family. But I'm back for now.

Postie was very kind again today and brought me a lovely package of squares from Canada. I wish you could feel these squares and see them properly. Gorgeous stitchery there Giulietta - thank-you so much (and what a beautiful letter you sent too, brought tears to my eyes - the next lemon meringue pie will be dedicated to you!)

Weather has occurred at the Stash Basket HQ. The sort of weather that small children love and that mothers with mountains of washing and no tumble drier hate. I am now sick of wet clothes hanging up all over the place. Can I just say here that we live in a very old house - 200 yrs plus - which was built in the times before cavity walls were even thought of. We have very thick solid walls. Very thick, cold solid walls. So cold that the slightest amount of humidity in the air condenses on the walls and forms vertical streams. It is not pleasant. Especially when wet washing is hanging everywhere. But never mind eh? It will soon be summer and our cold house is perfect then!

Have you seen the Sainsbury's advert about cranberries and cranberry juice ice cubes added to cava? Well we thought we'd have a go, purely as a trial for Christmas you understand. It looked pretty enough, but the taste? Well, I'd really prefer a glass of white wine myself. It was dry and bitter all in one, the ice cubes kept getting in the way (I don't ever like ice in a drink except maybe a G & T) And cranberries really aren't nice to eat raw without a pound of sugar.

But now I must get on. I have Christmas presents to buy and make (the mind is always so willing but the body unable), cardigans to finish, Christmas cakes to ice, clothes to iron and children to take to football training. This time of year always makes me think I'm running so fast just to stand still. Busy, busy, busy...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Thank-you all so much for your kind words yesterday. It made me feel so much better, knowing that things will get better.

I had a meeting in school today and all sorts of things are now afoot - some of which are incredibly scary. I am desperately worried about my 'little boy' who has got to start becoming a young man. We never had the terrible twos or the troublesome threes but crikey, he's been saving himself up for the testing teens.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Please tell me it will get easier. Please tell me that all these tears I am shedding right now will be worth it in the end. Please tell me where I have gone wrong, I have always tried so hard. Please tell me something good will come out of all this angst. I no longer know what to do and if I didn't love the little sod, I would put him up for adoption.

Parenthood is not as easy as it seemed once upon a time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


OK then Domesticali, I've been tagged. Six things I love.

1. Peace and quiet.
This is in desperately short supply with 2 boy children who like nothing better than fighting, be it play or serious fighting. But oh, who wouldn't want to join me here at the side of a lake with big comfy chairs and maybe the knitting bag, a bottle or 3 of wine, let's have a waiter thrown in too, willing to cater to our every needs. (Well I'm sure I would like it, but I love dreaming too!)

2. Spring flowers.
I love seeing daffodils nodding their heads bringing cheer after the dull, miserable and cold winter. They will be extra welcome next year following the ghastly 'summer' weather.

3. Debbie Abrahams blankets.
Now you are going to get so bored over the next year about this subject as I intend droning on about it a lot. I have been so lucky as to get into the Debbie Abrahams Mystery Blanket Project Club. Every month we get sent yarn and patterns for a few squares which will be made up into a blanket by the end of 2009. I am so excited by this. Don't know what the blanket will be like, but this years was a countryside theme and was stunning. I need a blanket. (Well, I don't, but another one will be nice. I live in a cold house!)

4. Mr Darcy
Be it Colin Firth, Matthew MacFadyen or even Jane Austen's Mr Darcy. I am not fussy. Any one of them would do. (And I recently heard that if Colin Firth had been asked to do this scene naked, he would have done. OMG)

5. Chocolate.
Cake, ice cream, fudge, wrapped round nuts or fruit, plain or milk (white chocolate doesn't do it for me). Chocolate. Any which way. Love the stuff.

6. The Stash Basket
There is so much to love about this basket. It was given to me years ago by my grandma for keeping logs in. No longer have an open fire, so it got converted. It is the home to one monkee, 4 little cotton rabbits, 2 chameleons and lots of beautiful yarn. What's not to love?

So I'm now supposed to tag 6 people. I'm not going to do that though. Rebel that I am. No, I'm going to say, if you want to do it, then do. If you're blogless, leave a comment and tell me what you love.

(Strange don't you think that Mr Darcy comes above my husband and children in a list of things I love...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Socks and cake

This was my 'train knitting' on Saturday. Mum's second sock. And few ladies seemed to believe this was actually going to grow up into a sock. 'A pixie sock?' suggested someone. No way, my mum has little feet, but not that little! No, this is one of the Diamond Patch socks - quite possibly the best sock pattern known to man/womankind. You knit most of it on straight needles, not in rounds and it looks so darn difficult but is in fact so darn easy! Fiddly but easy.

I love this pattern - just to prove it will be a sock one day (hopefully some time before December 25th!) here's the first one already completed.

About a year ago, Merry Mog (sadly blogless) sent me a pattern for some little Christmas stockings so I've been playing over the weekend making these. What do you think? Whenever we decorate the tree, the chocolates disappear within days - wouldn't be the same without a few chocolates on the tree would it? So how about this for an idea - make little stockings, fill with a chocolate and re-use throughout the festive season. They're fun and quick and rather pretty I think!
Oh and here's the cake as promised. Nathan used to be a builder and he supports Luton Town FC ('The Hatters'). I piped the names of all the team round the other 3 sides.


Sorry to have missed you out Trashy. You were indeed there. It was very, um, nice (?) to meet you. Perhaps one day when I'm feeling very brave I might get to really and truly meet you. I have heard such things about you though, not sure if I'm strong enough yet...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Real live people!

Much has been said already about the joys of meeting up with friends. Friends who, until yesterday, were just faceless bloggers, not even real people. But hey, let me tell you Blogging World, I met up with some real life, living, breathing bloggers! Lucy Locket, Moogsmum, Domesticali, Dottycookie, Silver Pebble, Vicious Chicken and The NBM (and also a very friendly non-blogger, Ally - or is that Ali?).

Vera of course came along and became very attached to Baby Pebbles' booties as well as this little chicken (why can't I remember her name?)

We went for lunch at a great little restaurant in Covent Garden and for once I liked the look of my dinner best of all (a chicken salady thing with great big long croutons). We talked, exchanged pressies, got rather loud, ate, talked a bit more, laughed so much, went shopping to a lovely little bead shop (in real life a very big bead shop as it turned out!) and then came home.

We all had such a great day and it was so nice to put faces - and real names - to all of these people.

And ladies, it was as I expected when I got home. The oven had not been turned on, let alone the lasagne put in it, stress levels were quite high and the children were playing football with oranges whilst Mr Stressy played cards on the computer, shouting at the children to stop shouting. A scene of domestic bliss!!!

I had not made a pudding - and neither had the house-husband of the day - so it was very lucky that I stopped off at M&S to buy chocolate eclairs and banoffee puddings. No photo of them, we ate them too quickly!

Cake and knitting news tomorrow....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Speaking with my mouth full

More squares have arrived at the Stashbasket - many thanks to Karen and her next-door neighbour who also helped out. They are lovely and all perfect squares! The very good news is that I am now half way in my target of 100 squares (that means I have 50 squares for the mathematically challenged amongst us - I had to use a calculator to work that one out!). I have decided not to sew them up until I reach the magic number, which seems like a good idea at the moment, but I think I'll regret the decision when faced with 100 little squares all needing sewing up! And then of course there is the matter of the border and whether or not to back the blanket...

Postie has been extra-kind to me today bringing a surprise parcel from Trashy, containing Brownies. Can you smell them? Can you sense the calorie intake? Can you feel the texture? Can you taste the chocolatey goodness? (There are eggs in these brownies and eggs are good for you, so there must be some goodness in there!) Absolutely delicious! Thank-you trashy!

I also received my latest copy of this today. It's very good - as always - packed full of interesting articles and lots of very wearable knitting patterns. I love the tank-top on the cover (though would make it loads longer to cover up the spare tyre so I don't look pregnant!) And the cable car coat, oh yes please, I'll have one of those. Oh, and that very small little neck warmer which looks a nice quick knit. Plenty to help Startitis get worse. Again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My mum

Mum and dad have come over today to see us and wish birthday boy a happy birthday. It has become a tradition that mum makes the boys' cakes - and that's fine by me! So here is Josh's cake. It is so light and delicious and now has considerably fewer chocolates on the top than it had when I took this photo! She's good at cakes is my mum!

As you must know by now, I work with little children - 4/5 year olds. We have a class teddy who goes on visits to their homes and on holidays with them. He is a very good teddy and is polite and well behaved.

He is also a very smart teddy - a kind lady knits him clothes now and again, sending them in parcels addressed to the bear himself. Here Willoughby can be seen modelling his latest winter clothes. A veritable riot of colour. At least he can be seen clearly in the dark!

The kind lady is of course my mum, who certainly has an eye for colour! She used every last scrap of yarn she had in the house to complete this outfit.

That has left me feeling quite giddy. Imagine only having enough yarn in your home to knit a teddy sized cardi, trousers and hat. Imagine too using your very last scraps of yarn to make clothes for a bear who you will never see!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The 11th and 12th of November

Having just read this post, I must pull myself together to write of happier things. The tears have poured onto the key board so I may be cut off at any minute as the whole computer fizzles into non-existence.

Fourteen years ago this very night, Mr Stressy and I were a happily married couple. He was not stressy and indeed had endless patience with his scatty wife.

Then during the early hours of the morning life changed forever. A friend rushed us down the road to University College Hospital, London. Well, I say 'rushed' but we were in fact stuck behind Kings Troop on horse back off to rehearse for the following days Cenotaph parade. So we crawled to hospital. I knew exactly where we had to go on arrival. Third floor. But as ever, my sense of direction had gone awry. So we then walked down 2 flights of stairs to the correct floor.

I can look back on it all now and smile. The TENs machine (still partly attached to my back) fell into the toilet, giving me electric shocks. Nine (yes, I counted them) student doctors staring up at me from the bottom of my bed urging me to push. The student doctor asking of the nurse 'um do you know where this bit goes?' whilst trying to stitch me up. The lasagne, mashed potatoes and tinned tomatoes brought in for me to eat whilst nurses were doing all sorts of unmentionable things...

Child birth. Yeuk.

But hey, who cares? I had this amazing little creature. This beautiful bundle of small child. Perfectly formed. Mine, all mine. (OK partly Mr Stressy's too). No longer were we a happily married couple, we were a happy family!

Our first born. Happy, noisy, loud, adventurous, athletic, gorgeous - and fourteen years old. Did I miss something? Where have those years gone to?

Happy Birthday Josh. You have been worth every single twinge of pain, every tear of frustration and annoyance. You drive me to distraction most days, but I wouldn't change you for the world!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Making mincemeat

First of all, assemble your ingredients - a bag of fresh or frozen cranberries, 3 small cooking apples (cored and finely chopped - don't peel), packet of vegetable suet, 2 x 500g bags of mixed dried fruit, 350g soft dark brown sugar, zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons, 50g flaked almonds and 4 heaped teaspoons mixed spice.

Now that was the difficult part. Bung all of the above in a big bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.

If you can possibly wait for 12 or so hours to let the flavours mingle, then all well and good, if you can't just carry on with the next step.

Cover with foil and place in a low oven (120 C) for 3 hours. During this time, your house will smell so damn good, you will wonder why you ever bought air fresheners.

Take it out of the oven and stir - and I challenge you not to try a spoonful right now. When it's cooled a little, pour in 6 tablespoons of brandy, stir again and spoon into sterilised jars. (To sterilise jars, I always put them in the oven at about 200 C for 10 mins)

And just to show you how lovely it all looks, here's Vera, still clinging onto her chocolate.

A Word of Warning.
You can buy mincemeat cheaper than this will cost you. However, you cannot buy mincemeat this good cheaper - even the luxury stuff doesn't come close.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Round Pudding and Square Squares.

Saturday Pudding today was chocolate ice cream sandwiches -take 2 home made chocolate chip cookies, sandwich together with ice cream, dip in melted chocolate and bung in freezer until frozen. Prepare for very messy faces and fingers and for cries of 'are there any seconds?'

Postie has been very good to me lately, bringing these beautiful squares for the Blankets. Vera decided to show us how they looked and to let us know that the blanket is now more suitable for a monkee than a baby bunny. They came without a name, so I'm unable to thank the sender personally. But thank-you mystery knitter!

The other day I saw some gorgeous cards over at Sussex Yorkies place and admired them. Then what do you know, 3 of them arrived at my house - aren't they great?

Not only does Sussex Yorkie make amazing cards, she makes amazing knitted squares too - 20 of them in fact! Vera did not wish to model these squares because she was too busy with the final item sent in this most interesting of parcels.

Would you just look at this? Inside this wrapper is a bar of chocolate with pistachios in. It looks delicious. And it smells delicious. And I'm sure it tastes delicious too, but I am not allowed any, because it says Vera on the wrapper, so I am assured that you can only have any if you're called Vera. I have tried protesting that we happily eat Cadbury's Dairy Milk but that we aren't saddled with such a long name or that it's nice to share or even 'ooh look Vera, 007 is on the telly' while I try to grab said bar and eat it. But nothing doing. It would seem that like any self-respecting young lady, Vera likes her chocolate and is unwilling to share.

Thank-you so much Debbie. What a lovely surprise parcel that was.

(And if you're interested, mincemeat making is on tomorrow's subject list)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas cake

Well, I lasted until midnight and could stay awake no longer, so decided to be really clever and put the timer on the oven. It worked like a dream and turned off at the right time, leaving the cake to finish cooking as the oven cooled. I had to leave the extractor fan on overnight though as I really find the smell over powering (when I say 'Christmas cake' I actually meant 3 cakes - 24 eggs worth of cakes!). That too worked like a dream, leaving just a gentle aroma of fruit cakes when we woke up this morning.

Next time I go to Sainsbury's, think I'll get the mincemeat ingredients. Have you ever made mincemeat? If not, just you wait, it's one of the best and easiest things to make (and tastes delicious straight from the jar). And it looks so much more appetising than the bought stuff - probably because it is so much more appetising!

Oh, and while I was waiting for the cake to be ready last night, rather than knitting, I decided to catch up on some blog reading. I have missed a lot of late it seems. A wedding, a sparkly new piece of jewellery and a mention for me and the blankets.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Was it a good idea...

... to come home from eldest son's football training at 9pm and decide to put a Christmas Cake in the oven? A cake that is going to take 5 hours to cook? No, I didn't think so either. But like the stupid idiot that I am, I did it.

Ah, Noro, how do I love thee?

Photo of knitting progress as promised. I am loving this pattern, really, really, loving it. I am also really, really loving this yarn. Unlike its cousin, Scratchy Kureyon, Silk Garden is in a different league altogether. I like the way the sleeves are the same, but not quite the same (quite intentional I assure you!). I have cast on the back and fronts (you do this all in one piece) but this is growing at a snails pace for 2 reasons - 1. the two-colour rib is slow work with 191 stitches, and 2. I keep falling asleep! Oh and 3. I keep playing at other stuff as well - scarves and socks with that Christmas deadline!

So all you Americans out there, are you as glad as me that election day has finally arrived? We just have wall to wall US politics lately and I am fed up of it all. I don't know who I would vote for, Obama looks like fun and Palin looks a bit of a fruit cake (always had a liking for fruit cake). Don't understand it all - don't want to understand it all either. Politics seems like a whole load of people arguing with each other and solving nothing. What will be, will be.

Just pass me the chocolate cake someone!

Hey, shocking news I've just heard on the radio. Remember this film? One of those feel good films where the baddies get their comeuppance and the goodies triumph over adversity. Anyway, the Karate Kid is 47 today. 47? Surely not - where did those 30 years go?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Pudding.

Would you just look at this - Saturday pudding is actually being posted on Saturday! And not only that, this is the second post of the day. Blimey, will miracles never cease?

Undecided as to what to make for pudding today, I looked in the fridge for inspiration. Half pots of soured cream and cottage cheese, cream cheese, 2 small fromage frais and raspberries. Could only be cheesecake don't you think? Maltesers left over from the trick or treaters of last night.

Have managed to persuade the men folk of the house to go and see Quantum of Solace (not in my line thanks) and it is so blissfully quiet in the house. I could get quite used to living alone. Anyway, they'll probably come back so stuffed full of popcorn that they won't want tea let alone pudding. Would you like a piece saving?

Pumpkins, windmills and daleks

Did you have a good Halloween then? Here are our pumpkins that we did - not one of my most favourite jobs, but you just have to do it don't you?

Sorry I've not been around all week - it's been half term and very busy. I've been knitting (more of that another day) ironing, and making curtains (something I've never done before, but in a desperate attempt to save money I had a go myself).

Oh yes, have also made marmalade and chutney too.

We went to mum and dad's for a couple of days - they took us to a place that has loads of yew trees all clipped into topiary shapes. It was really good - but very muddy - the boys loved it though! They bounced off the trees using them as vertical trampolines and we all played 'spot the shapes'.

This one was my favourite - it's a windmill, but I actually think it has the look of a dalek about it - what say you?

Exciting Update - have just been sent this link by Merry Mog - have a go, there are pressies to be won! Berocca blog relief Good luck - let me know if you win something!