Saturday, 30 March 2013

Good Friday

This title has always struck me as a bit of an anomaly. Referring to the church it is anything but good - the day when Jesus was crucified.

Well dad came today and it was a "good Friday". Having dad here is always a good opportunity to battle my way through a few more cookery books.  As he arrived I was busy adding maltesers to this cake.

Having already prepared a simnel cake for Easter Sunday - chocolate seemed the next best thing to bake with.

I tried to place the maltesers like Lorraine does in the book in lines - but shock/horror not all maltesers are the same size. I have had to live till 53 to discover this fact! Also my cake was not 100% round etc.

Dad and Mr P were busy studying this book - which is totally out of character them being interested in cooking books. Then I realised they were not studying the recipes but were dribbling at the pictures of Lorraine! She is rather beautiful. Don't think she could have been eating many slices of this cake.

Her cake seems to have come out taller - just shows you the difference a one inch cake tin makes when it comes to the final result.

Needless to say we didn't have this for lunch but had this yummy goats cheese recipe instead.

Not so good on the presentation - but that doesn't effect the yumminess.

Mmmmm looking at this cover reminds me I have not made French onion soup for ages, must do it soon.

Can recommend this for a rather special but very easy to prepare lunch.

Well believe it or not my life does not totally consist of living around food. I have been keeping my swimming up and getting more used to swimming with my head under the water. My ears are still ringing but am faithfully using ear plugs and the addition of the hat is keeping most of the water out of my ears. I decided the nose plug was just too much and couldn't breathe properly with it. All in all I think my swimming is improving and am managing to swim 26 lengths in 25 minutes. I know for a lot of you that would be slow but for me this is an achievement.

After lunch dad and I journeyed to Uppingham where we had a delightful time. If you haven't been there before it is certainly worth a trip. There is a wonderful array of second hand book shops, antique/bric a brac shops, good charity shop, art gallery and lovely cafes. The town has some lovely properties and makes for a pleasant walk to view them when the sun is shining and not a bitter wind and snow like yesterday. Dad likes to look for more Observer books to add to his collection and I'm always looking for a bargain. Well I had my fill of it this day. I got soooo excited when I found theses books for £2 each! Wow what a bargain - especially the Susan Briscoe book. I have been debating whether to buy this book for the last couple of years. I was so excited I could feel myself going all tingly, giggly and feeling like doing a little dance in the shop!

Then I saw another one which I already have but thought I could buy it for my chicken lady (well she's not actually a chicken but she looks after them when we go away).

Then in the charity shop I saw this cute crockery set - it's not a precious designer set or fine porcelain but just couldn't resist it. But before I could get my money out dad had paid the lady - so we had a friendly argument with people watching confusedly!

 Then of course I've got to start my granny collection and found these cuties - trouble is I do not know how I am going to know which babies to give them to Nemo or Twin Blobs 1 and 2?

The booties are soooo cute.

Think I'm getting into owls - something so appealing about them.

Anyway revenge took place in the antique shop when dad spotted a collection of 3 bird books. So whilst he was busy looking at the observer books I sneaked them off the shelf and paid for them. Well he went back to get them and oh he was sooo disappointed. He was asking me where they had gone, did I see what happened to them, he was even asking an assistant - I had a job not to let on what I had done. But it was such fun to give them to him on our way out and see the pleasure on his face.

Back home for yet another meal this time from yet another Jamie Oliver book.

Dad and Mr P watched me whilst I made this recipe and they were very rude about my wellington - saying that it looked more like a sausage roll etc. To be honest I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out looking reasonable and not splitting at the joint. It did have a bit of a soggy bottom but not too bad.

There was a fear of cutting into the wellington and seeing it not cooked properly but I need not have worried.

Pudding was another recipe from Lorraine's book. So we shamelessly had two puds - some of the chocolate cake and this! The chocolate cake was and is as we still have lots left - death by chocolate. It's probably best served after one has been on a long walk or done something rather energetic.

This was our first pud have to say I added more white chocolate to the cakes than Lorraine has in her picture but I wasn't going to waste any of that melted chocolate.

Okay I need to deviate back to Thursday as I also managed to achieve another book. We had a great joint churches service in the evening but this meant we were much later coming home than anticipated. We stayed much longer to clear up and talk to many people. So dinner was not served till 10pm. So apologies for the crude interpretation of the dish but by that time I was beginning to lose it.

Yes this is actually a recipe in another of Jamie Olivers books - fish finger buttie. Can you believe it a great chef actually has published this recipe. Mr P says that Jamie has gone up in his expectations.
Our sandwich doesn't look that good but it was so late and we had chippies with it. I haven't eaten this late for many years.

Sorry Jamie - hope you are not too cross with our interpretation!

Oh also this night managed to finish a small project that I started to show you on the last blog. It came from another blog written by Bunny Mummy. You can click  here to see a pictorial tutorial of how to make this cute owl.

Not sure he looks that cute - a bit ferocious. Think Bunny Mummy's look cuter.

 Click here to see a list of all the books used so far.

32 books used. 95 books to go. 276 days to go to the end of the challenge.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

I'm Spinning!

No I have not taken up a new hobby - but this is a reflection of how I am feeling. It started Monday afternoon when I received a text message from No 2 child asking me to call him. He rarely does this so I phoned him immediately and then got asked to phone him again when Mr P was with me. He sounded alright. One hour later during which time my head was wondering but guessing what the news might be. So anyway Mr P and I stand in the hall with our bottoms on the radiator (as it was freezing cold), phone on loud speaker. No 2 says he has had the afternoon off work - well he doesn't have time to do that so it must be important and then he says guess what I have to say. Well fearful of getting wrong I say "was it for a picture?" and he says "YES".  His wife is 13 weeks pregnant but then he has more news - there is not one baby but two!!!!!!!!! Oh my word!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no family history on either side of twins - so this news is totally unexpected.

Apparently according to the sonographer this is a bunk bed shot. The twins are due in September. So we shall be going from nothing to three grandchildren from July to September - how exciting.  I cannot quite work out the picture but there is no third child hiding in there! Trouble is I have been a bit laid back re knitting for baby Nemo thinking I had plenty of time, was just getting my head around starting to knit a blanket when we receive this wonderful news - so I better get a move on! Three blankies to knit - I am so privileged. Oh next Christmas will be such fun with these little ones getting together.

Well with all this excitement decided it is time  to get some projects finished. So at long last I finished my granny square cushion for the hall.

I just love the ruffle - it took a lot of wool but I am pleased with the finished result.

Oh the chickens have been rather clever recently. They have got into the habit of jumping onto the top of their hut, when they see one of us at home. They then cluck loudly until one of us throws them a few grains of corn. They are so cheeky.

Finally last night I started making something small - saw it on another blog. You'll just have to guess what it is at the moment.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

It's Spring Again...........

Well it should be spring but I feel like wishing you a Happy Christmas.

Oh the poor chickens and wildlife in general must be wondering what the heck is going on with the weather. Some birds have even started nesting - I don't know how they are getting on.

Anyway it's time to let you know how I am doing with my challenge - not too brilliantly due to other events happening. But I have managed to accomplish a few more books in the last few days.

This book I have had for many years but it is still well used.

I have to confess never trying this recipe before and I wasn't too sure how it would turn out as the recipe requires you to marinated fine slices of chicken breast in flour and egg white, then boil it for two minutes. After the veggies have been fried the chicken is then added to the pan along with yummy Chinese rice wine and other Chinese ingredients. The chicken turned out to be very moist and a rather enjoyable dinner., served with noodles.

Well anything Italian always sounds wonderful to me and Gino certainly looks delicious.

But just look what I found when I opened this book up - my cheeky hubby leaving me messages!

What I found amazing was the recipe used one chicken breast per person but by the time you bash it thinly the meal ends up looking enormous. It was another scrummy dinner.

And finally a pudding.

This book I have used quite a lot - very practical and easy dishes to make, can recommend it.

This is not a new recipe for me to prepare, as you can see the page is damaged but I don't mind seeing that as I'd rather a book be used than left to gather dust.

It looks rather ordinary but the strawberries are marinated in cointreau! mmmm

Time for a book count.

Click here to see the books used.

28 books used. 99 books to go. 281 days to go.


Saturday, 23 March 2013


Very early Friday morning two grown up women became school girls again. After a restless night worrying about the weather I gave up trying to sleep and got up to check that we had not been snowed in. Beginning of the year Mrs A and myself had bought tickets for the Sewing and Crafting Exhibition at the NEC - never dreamt we would be worrying about snow. Fortunately there was not too much snow and we headed off very early only to arrive very early too. But being girls we always find lots to talk/giggle about, tea to drink, toilets to visit and creating havoc at the cloakroom (but that's another story) and all very quickly we were being let into the great halls of never ending sweeties!

Mrs A was in top form and said "Which way shall we go? Oh everyone always goes off to the right so we will go left". Then she immediately proceeded to walk to the right! Now Mrs A and I have very different tactics when it comes to shopping - she buys something as soon as she sees something she likes whereas for me I cannot do that. I have to go around the whole place and then decide what I want to buy. That sounds a good idea but it's rather a pain as you have to remember where and what you saw! This also means poor Mrs A has to be dragged back around again and she gets tempted to spend more money again! But there is sooo much to see and sooo much temptation and soooo many new ideas.

This lady was selling giant knitting needles and giant crochet hooks - so that you can make rugs etc in hours instead of days. I'm not sure my hands would be able to cope with the thickness of those needles, but great for those who can.

I took about 70 pictures but you'll be pleased to know you haven't go to see them all!

I just love house pictures. This is a miniature quilt about the size of A4 sheet of paper. Soo cute.

On show were some of the costumes from Jane Eyre films. Here is the costume Emma Thompson wore for Sense and Sensibility or as Mr P calls the film - senseless and sexless!

Of course you want to see the shirt that Mr D'Arcy wore in Pride and Prejudice - can't forget that moment can we? Oooh it sends tingles down my spine recalling that moment when he comes out of the water.

I can't imagine going to all the trouble of stitching an apron and then wiping my grubby hands on all that beautiful needlework.

Sorry cannot remember the details of this quilt but it was a copy of a mosaic floor from some great house. I just loved the quilt.

Especially loved the centre flower with all the buttons and the fabric is that gorgeous silk dupion.

Another miniature quilt. Love the randomness of the fabrics and stitching.

Isn't this soo cute? I'd love to make this picture.

This is certainly a type of small quilt I would love to have a go at making. Oh there is just not enough hours in a day.

This lovely lady - Lisa Evans from Wales was displaying some of her work she did for college. The patchwork on the wall is deliberately displayed that way. The paper inserts were pictures of friends or something very meaningful and then she also asked family and friends for some material that was dear to them. Such a lovely idea.

This full sized quilt is made up of masses of tiny tiny hexagons - someone had a lot of patience.

I thought this bag was rather sweet and stopped to ask the lady if I could take a picture. She said she had never made anything before and this was her first attempt., hand sewn because she cannot use a sewing machine. She was really chuffed that we stopped to admire her bag.

The Cotton Patch store is always a delight to visit and they always seem to occupy a large corner. One day Mrs A and I will have to venture out to their shop in Birmingham. They sell a wonderful array of fabrics such as those designed by Kaffe Fassett.

The quilt hanging to the right is one that I am in the middle of making but have not done anything to it for ages. Haver decided that I must do more to completing this quilt over the Easter break.

Wouldn't you like to see what I bought - the answer is "Yes please"!

This book has just been recently published and the author was there. She was selling the book, kits and lots of various fabrics to accompany the book. It was probably at this point where Mrs A was probably doing her nut at me because I couldn't make a decision which bundle of material to buy. And in fact just as we were about to leave, final visit to the loo she shouts out - why didn't you get her to sign the book and also you do know you can't get the bundles of material off her website?" Well you can guess what happened next.....

Back into the show I dragged Mrs A!

Then I put her through the agony of not being able to choose a second bundle of fabric! So Mrs A and the author made the decision for me! What a useless shopper I am.

Hopefully all the different colours will give me enough variety to be able to complete several projects from the book.

I like the way she gives such clear pictorial instructions. Not even me should be able to go wrong!

Oh well enough of this episode.

A fat quarter of pale green silk dupion to do some embroidery on - ironically from a stall called Bombay Stores. They are from Bradford and it makes me soo mad with myself that I wasn't into fabric when I used to live in Leeds.

I also bought a small something for No 3 childs birthday but obviously can't show you.

Look at this bargain from Cotton Patch. Have plans of doing a small strip quilt. Oh dear the project list gets longer.

And finally my last buy:

This gorgeous cross stitch. Have to say got a bit out of doing this hobby - felt it had become dated but Michael Powell seems to have bought it all back to life again - well for me anyway. This picture is the middle section. It can stand alone or I could buy the other two at some other point in time. Just love the little beach houses, the boats and the lighthouse. Oh dear so much to do and so little time. I never get bored. I think work should pay me for five days but actually I only work two days - that would seem fair! Then more people could have a job if we only worked two days a week.

The day was finished with a Chinese takeaway with the men folk and some wine. Followed very rapidly with a contented sleep.