Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Return of Saturday Pudding

It's been away for a very long time, but I promise to try harder in future. Here we have Toblerone and White Chocolate Cheesecake. It's one of those adapted recipes using 2 different recipes and not really following either. If you get what I mean! Which is a shame really because it was very tasty indeed and I have no idea how I made it!

It was mum's birthday cake - here she is with the candles lit. This is a very bad photo of her and I know she won't be happy that I'm showing it to you. Sorry mum!

And on the knitting front, while I'm awaiting the imminent arrival of the first 'mystery blanket' package, I thought I'd cast on something new. Wonder why I didn't just finish something already on the needles (startitis again). This is the Winter Cottage Mitten kit from Posh Yarn. And true to form, I love it. I am aiming for World Domination of Posh, it's mighty fine stuff!

So anyway, did you all have a good Christmas? (me - yes) Have you braved the sales yet? (me - not yet but apparently Monday is our day) Did you eat or drink too much? (me - of course) Have you started a diet yet? (me - no, pass me another chocolate orange) Did you get any nice yarn or fabric? (me - no, family all think I have way too much anyway) Have you already made a mental promise to yourself to be more organised next year? (me - yes, it's top of my New Year Resolutions...)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Very quickly

Just had to show you this card. It's mum's birthday on the 27th, the worst day of the year to have one apparently. So we try to give her something a bit different each year. I made a teeny weeny jumper and eldest son did the art work, the spelling is very dubious, but it all adds to the general effect don't you think? I know she'll love it!

Anyway, must dash, presents still to wrap, ironing to do and turkey to prepare, not to mention all of the veg to get ready. Maybe tomorrow I can have a day off?

Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Are you ready for Christmas?'

In the true spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, I feel that if one more person asks me this ridiculous question, I will beat them up. Of course I'm not ready - I don't think I ever will be. There always seems like one more thing to do. I know that by Boxing Day I will have remembered something that I should have done, someone that I should have called or something that I should have cooked. But by then, of course it will be too late and it will just have to go on the list for next year. The list that I make every year 'Things I Must Not Forget To Do Next Christmas'. The list always gets put somewhere safe (usually in the back of my mind as I never remember to write it down!)

But anyway, on a much more positive note, look what's finished at last! Hurrah - my mum can have a present this year! I have loved knitting these socks, they look so complicated, but they really aren't, just very, very fiddly! The yarn is a dream to knit with (Posh Yarn Sophia 4-ply) and the result is so lovely. They have come out very wide as socks, but as mum always has cold feet, she can wear them inside the house.

The colours just sing out, so jewel like. I can see many more of these socks in my future, though maybe in a slightly less expensive yarn. Mind you, when you spend so long knitting something, what's the point in using cheap yarn? It doesn't last as long or wear as well ... Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself and justify another Posh order.....

And just because it wouldn't be Christmas without some food, let me just show you what I've made for the boys for their Christmas Day pudding. They don't eat the traditional pudding (pah, don't know what's good for them) so I've made these out of Hedgehog mixture. I seem to think they'll go down well! (In case you're new to this blog, fear not, I'm not chopping up unsuspecting hibernating hedgehogs. Maybe in the new year I'll share the recipe with you.)

Well all that remains my fellow bloggers is to wish you all a very happy Christmas. Whatever your beliefs, I hope you have a peaceful and joyous time. Thank-you for visiting me throughout the last year, I love having friends from around the world. I even have visitors from over the road - please say hello to Bill and Angie everyone - often visit, seldom comment!

Let us all raise our glasses to absent friends and happy times ahead.

Cheers. Clink.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cakes

Last year I made 9 Christmas Cakes. It was something I said would never happen again! (Not least because they were all presents). So this year, I've just done 3 - one for me, one for mum and dad and one for a friend who always orders one. Penguins having a snowball fight. Hope she'll like it.

Penguins made of icing are very easy and quite cute. Too cute to eat methinks!

They're a bit naughty though and have stockpiled the snowballs ready to throw at anyone who passes!

And this is our cake. We don't really go a bundle on marzipan and icing, preferring to eat cheese with ours. So I just do glace fruits and nuts on top. A million times easier and quicker. Have tried to persuade above friend to have one of these sorts, but she prefers to make me slave in the kitchen until the early hours. As WC said yesterday, I obviously have far too much time on my hands. (I'm still smarting over that one. Cow.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another conversation

A work colleague (hence forth known as WC) was telling us about her trip to Tescos:-

WC: Do you know, I spent ages last night in Tesco's walking up and down the aisles looking for mincemeat. It's Christmas and they didn't have any mincemeat. Not one jar. Huh.

Me: Why not just make some? It's very quick and far nicer than bought stuff.

WC (in a very sneering tone): You obviously have far too much time on your hands if you can make mincemeat.

Me: Not at all, I'm very busy, so I got up early this morning to make some.

WC: I'm not getting up early, I just wanted to stay in bed today.

Me: Ah well, I haven't got time to stay in bed, or walk up and down aisles in Tesco's.

Is it me?

And on a slightly obsessive note, I am becoming obsessed by Christmas trees made from magazines (but not nearly as much as my mum who now goes into shops to get those free Christmas gift magazines just so she can make more trees - dad says they now have a forest at home of them!) Those magazine trees and the wreaths, as so beautifully explained by Domesticali. I have come home from school at lunch time just so I can make some more!

In the background you can see Mr Stressy's pet hobby. Decanters filled with drink. My, don't we look opulent!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Last night, just as Mr Stressy (aka David) was due to come home, a conversation between him and his boss went thus:-

Boss: Er, David, is that your silver car outside?
David: Yes, is it in your way, do you want me to move it?
Boss: Er, no. I've just moved it for you when I reversed the land rover into it.

Can I just point out at this stage that David's car was parked in a very large driveway, nowhere near said land rover... Is it any wonder he is also known as Mr Stressy? Likely to be over £1,000 of repairs apparently. Thank goodness we shan't be paying for that one!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


That's how I felt yesterday. I had not slept well - Mr Stressy is poorly and had coughed and spluttered all night long. The wind was howling outside and the rain was lashing against the windows. Yes, that's it. It was just lack of sleep. It had nothing to do with the fact that we went out for our Christmas meal from school and that I had eaten far too much and that I had drunk several glasses of wine and gin (not together). It was only one gin and 3 glasses of wine (I don't normally drink alcohol, give me a cup of tea any day, but I felt it rude to ask for tea in the posh restaurant) which isn't that much really is it? Well it must have proved too much for me. Oh, no, now I'm getting away from the real reason I felt jaded. Blame Mr Stressy and the weather Michaela. Yes.

Anyway, to recover, we decorated the tree. Mostly it was the boys who decorated it - I did the garland up the stairs and the hanging things. I have lots of knitted tree decorations so they decided it would be nice for them all to have a party at the bottom of the tree.

I miss not having a real tree, the smell is just so Christmassy. But we used to have such trouble keeping the real one upright. We bought loads of those buckets with props to hold your tree up, each one guaranteed to work. And none of them ever did. Every year, the tree caused stress levels to rocket skywards, one year I remember sitting holding the darn thing up for 2 hours until Mr Stressy returned from work. I must admit to being a Mrs Stressy by this time! So the artificial tree was decided on, and a nice smelly candle that smells of pine trees! But I still miss it all the same.

Once the boys had gone to bed I decided to put the chocolates on - the mini stockings with teeny toblerones in. How long will it be before they find them?!

And great news on the blanket front. Number 2 is finished. Can you spot your squares? If not, don't worry, they will probably be on the second blanket, which is 20 squares big now. Don't forget, if you get bored of eating over Christmas and your knitting is all done, try making some nice mindless 4" squares for someone over at St Dunstan's. Keep an elderly person a bit warmer this winter. Many thanks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Post from Australia

Remember this? Well, my swap has finally arrived - only 7 months after the final posting date! My partner was Kylie from the wonderfully named town of Wagga Wagga in Australia. I mentioned that my geography was quite bad, so Kylie has sent me a map of Australia just in case I ever go there and get lost! (I go 6 miles down the road from here and get lost, heaven help me should I ever travel half way round the world!)

As well as my very lovely mini quilt, I had some beautiful buttons, a proper template of Australia, an Australian knitting magazine and some Smarties. Thank-you so much Kylie, I am a very lucky girl!

One of the patterns in the magazine is for a camel. And not just any camel. And actually not just a pattern in the mag - it's far too long so is available through pdf format - Talant The Camel is fabulous. He's got a space for needles, scissors and all sorts of other crafty stuff. He is now very much in my Ravelry queue!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oooh, look here...

I've just been sent this. Lucky me eh? Thanks Merry Mog! This picture is, of course just like me. My waist is just as slim as that, my legs look just as glamourous as that, I walk oh so elegantly in high heels just like that. This picture was obviously modelled on me.

I have things to show you but haven't yet taken the pictures. I have things to tell you but I've forgotten what they were. I am slowly losing the plot at the moment. I am beginning to get seriously annoyed by the fact that I have to sleep. I am usually in bed for about 7 hours (often less, never more). That is 7 hours when I could be doing stuff like finishing off the Christmas presents, wrapping the presents, baking, decorating the Christmas cakes defrosting the freezer, ironing, knitting, watching the whole series of Little Dorrit that I've recorded. You know - doing the important things in life.

But no, I have to sleep instead of doing all these things. And it's driving me nuts!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday pudding

We had chocolate cornflake cakes for pudding last night (I know how to treat my family!) but today's pudding was far more exciting. Have you got this book? If not, I urge you to get it. When I first saw it advertised, I just knew this was the book for me. I long to be a domestic Goddess, it conjours up such lovely images! I have made many things from it, and every one is delicious. And you know what, they aren't difficult either.

So today's pudding is Apple and Blackberry Grunt. Fabulous name there Nigella! She actually uses rhubarb in the book, but my children won't eat that, so we went with the safe alternative. Served steaming hot with custard, this was the perfect comfort food to warm us up after a cold afternoon watching children playing football. It is also quite the quickest and easiest hot pudding you can think of.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Are you keeping warm?

A cake at long last! This one is for Mr Stressy's bosses wife and is a present from Mr Stressy. Hmm. So how come it was me staying up so late? Anyway, she loves horses so I had a go at doing a little girl on her pony jumping over a wall.

Hmm. Again. How come it looks more like the pony is flying? Anyway, never mind, it was better than nothing (and judging by the hours Mr Stressy is putting in at work lately, nothing is what he would rather have given her).

Postie was very kind and brought me more squares - this pretty little lot from Natalie who owns (I am soooo jealous) this shop. One day I will go to Putney and call in to say hello. And no doubt spend a little money. I shall not tell Mr Stressy I have gone, I shall just say I'm off to Sainsburys or something. (it would take over 3 hours for me to get there, 6 hours in the shop and 3 hours back - do you think he would miss me?)

I laid out all of the squares last night and started sewing them together. I feel that 10 x 10 squares is big enough - and guess what, I still have 20 squares left over, which means that I'll be making another blanket! So if you haven't yet been bitten by the bug of 4" squares and would like to make some, please feel free - I shall be collecting for quite some time yet!

Oh and look here what's finished! Blanket number 1 in all its glory. Hope you like it!
And don't be fooled by the sunshine in this picture. It's freezing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


What's this? The second door of my advent calendar (thanks Lucy, it's so pretty) has been opened already? What happened to November? Was I asleep? Where did it go to? It's just all too much this time thing - I know it goes faster as you get older, but heck, if it speeds this fast now, I'd better start finding myself a retirement home as I'll be needing to book myself in next month. 42 going on 82. (When I get to 82, will I have more time to knit?)

I have very nearly finished blanket number 1 - just 2 more rows and then cast off. Then I promise to start the squares one, and just in case I'm bored, I'll be cutting out pieces for a felted jumper blanket - here are all the jumpers roughly cut up, just need to make them into rectangles now.

Sorry, I'm making very little sense here, and no doubt I'm boring you all silly. But there really isn't much to report at the moment. There will be knitting news tomorrow, I promise. Even if it is of the unfinished variety!

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.