Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas 2011 smart boys...

We had a fantastic Christmas - just wanted to share with you our 2 gorgeous little men in their Christmas finery...
(this was before any opening anything other than their stockings)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hot Choc treats...

Don't those little faces say it all, mmmm hot Choc milk after a good stroll in the woods x


That time of year again...


Stir up Sunday has been and gone but sticking with my own little tradition; I soaked all my Christmas Cake fruit in a bottle of Brandy, some fresh Orange Juice and a little Cranberry Juice for 3 weeks starting at the beginning of October. 3 Weeks later, my sister called around and we got the biggest bucket we could buy (cleaned it up of course) and mixed together enough for all this years cakes. Over the past week I covered them in marzipan, left to dry for a couple of days then added the fondant and very minimal decoration this year!

7 of the finished cakes:

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Low Cal Choc Cupcake...


I'm trying my hardest to stick to an approx 1200 calorie a day allowance - it isn't a diet, no food is off limit unless the single item happens to be over 1200 calories! OMG what would that taste like?!?

Anyway - I'm trying to vary the foods and enjoy a little of what I like (love in the case of choc) by having low cal hot choc - Options Chocolate Brownie and reducing my portion sizes back to where they should be. On weighing a bowl of boring cornflakes this morning I realised I was probably putting almost 2.5 times the recommended amount in the bowl - oops.

I'm not saying it's easy but I'm helping myself along by enjoying the challenge of finding tasty foods and actually it's been harder to find easy recipes for the low calorie thing as they all need 10x more spices/herbs than are on my spice rack and way too many different and obscure ingredients.

Anyway I'd like to share with you my version of a low cal cupcake that with a nice brew on the side (no milk) is a really tasty treat and provided you don't eat the whole batch shouldn't hit the allowance too hard...

Ingredients: (makes 12, feel free to double... treble... as the occasion demands - just beware the increase in size of the eggs when whisked x)

3 eggs
85g Sugar
70g Self Raising Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa (unsweetened)

Method: (don't try to do by hand unless you're looking to eat the whole batch and need to pre-burn the calories off)

  • Preheat oven to 180`c or 10/20 degrees less of you have a fan oven
  • Crack the eggs into a clean bowl and add the sugar, whisk until the mixture leaves a line behind (to me it looks like runny marshmallow), it takes me just over 5 mins to do in my kenwood mixer, probably a bit longer with a handheld mixer and lord only knows if you did it by hand
  • Add the cocoa to your flour, it is very important to sift them over the surface of your egg mixture, aim is to keep as much air in as possible
  • Fold the flour into the eggs v e r y slowly, this will take more time than everything you've just done
  • Divide the mix into 12 cases
  • Pop them in the oven for 13 minutes
  • When you take them out they should feel springy to the touch
Voila, tasty cupcakes and just under 70 calories each - gotta love the lack of fat! This recipe would also be just enough to make 2 sandwich sponges if you used say 6" tins - anything much bigger and they'd just be biscuits!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Muchos mushrooms...

Omg, how many mushrooms in one place, spotted on our walk this afternoon. We were on a dandelion hunt, this wasn't the only crop either- loads all in one area!


And then there were 7...

I think we're doomed to be the owners of many rabbits! Do you remember me saying that although we split up mum and dad bunnies on the day we had 2 new kits and that it could already be too late. Well as of 11/11/11 another 3 tiny but very cute mewling kits entered the world, mum is a dirty brown colour and dad is black with white collar, no brown babies as yet must be a recessive gene:

4 days old (can you spot them all - trying not to disturb the amazing nest Bang has made for them, all from her own belly fur - ouch)

A month old, will be fully weaned by December 10th - dwarf lop cross:
It should be the end of it as dad had the snip within days of fatherhood and mum was due to be able to go and see the vet in a few weeks when our toddlers would have been weaned. We're also all set up to split the toddlers up as of December 10th when they are classed as weaned.

We're not looking to keep them all but are fully prepared to accept the responsibility we originally took on - I class this as pretty bad luck, ah well. Anyway, watch this space for more fun when we try to determine whether we've got girls or boys in a few more weeks!


Anyone looking for a pet bunny is free to add a comment and I'll be in touch - they won't be free as I would like to dissuade those who may be tempted to put them in a python cage as live bait - also I feel a cost adds more weight to the decision of taking on a pet.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Its back...



My knitting mojo has returned - this is Annis blocking nicely overnight on my new tablecloth, a shawl pattern from SusannahIC on Ravelry.com. I made some silly mistakes and across the 363 stitches I inevitably lost or gained one every single row! I also misread the chart and where I should have K2Tog, I SSK or vice versa - it turned out to be quite important for the overall look. Despite all this I L O V E it and may be hooked on lace.

I've already cast on my next project and expect to tell you about that very soon, oh and I know what the next two will be also. Thank goodness for cooler weather and wet evenings curled up on the sofa with my knitting!

Monday, 17 October 2011

A lick of paint...




I'm not sure if you can just about see the shed at the very bottom of the garden but with the elements hard at work this last year it had seen much better days and in particular was in need of wood treatment and a new roof. So I set to this weekend and painted the exterior surfaces (3 coats to get it just right) and re-felted the roof. I'm rather pleased with the roof as I suppose I thought it was more a job for DH but when you put your mind to it I think we girlies can achieve even the physical stuff too ;) . I installed a small solar panel on the roof which hooks up to an interior light for when we're hunting in the dark for that ever elusive screwdriver!

Just need to empty the shed and bin all the old pots of paint and broken buckets and spades and it'll be even easier to get at what we need to!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

6 day old bunnies...

A little picture with my littlest man to show you our 2 newest family members. Bang is doing a great job of looking after them and they're growing really quickly. Their eyes aren't open yet but should do in the next few days x

Pop has returned from his trip to the vets and inspecting his wound area appears to be making a good recovery - we just need to make sure he's eating properly again.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Ally Pally round up...

We came, we saw, we walked around at least 6 times and we sensibly bought what we had planned to buy instead of too much on impulse! It was my birthday present from MIL to go and we had a great if not very tiring day out to Alexandra Palace for the Knitting and Stitching Show 2011...

hmm what to make?? (actually I have a pretty good idea but can't tell you just now)


Knit Pro interchangeable tips - 3.00mm
Drops Delight - 10 green and 1 purple skein
Rowan Cash soft 4ply x 10
Alpaca Select Kusi - 2 skeins in pinky tones
Freebie 12mm Tulip Crochet Hook

I think I've got a colour palette sorted for this Autumn!!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Cardboard Box...


and an aunty makes for an awful lot of fun. I sat back and thought to myself utter nutters and then realised I had to take a picture as it was 'too funny' to coin my eldests favourite phrase!

OMG I'm a grandparent (of sorts)...

Our two gorgeous girl bunnies have had 2 more gorgeous bunnies, I know they aren't my Grandchildren but they are rather cute and the sight of a little life only an hour or so after it happened has floored me.

May I add here before you're distracted by the pictures that the 'father' was chosen by my dear husband and even when checking pictures on google did we still believe he was a she AND the vet's we took them to got it wrong as well (they didn't claim to be able to tell 100% in their defence).

Ah well, here we are with 4 bunnies instead of 2 - Pop the proud father won't leave Bang alone, we've separated them immediately but he's always by her side through the cage bars which is either a really lovely thought or he's just hoping to get his rocks off again?!?

At 3pm October 10th I noticed Bang (mummy) had an awful lot of fur in her mouth and seemed to be struggling to eat the cauliflower leaves I'd just given them. I opened up the hutch caught her and teased the fur out, she immediately set about eating the leaves with gusto. I was very shocked by the amount of fur in the cage and noticed that her white bob tail had disappeared perhaps she's growing a winter coat I think to myself, so I scoop up the fur and put it in the bin. Next ...concerned something was afoot I went to rabbit.org to do some research... She could be n e s t i n g.
Straight off to the bin I go and retrieve the fur thankfully on the top and not next to any nasties and replace it in the hutch. at 4.45pm I go out to see if all alright and spot the blood on the cage floor immediately check the nest box and find 2 new squiggling, hot bunny bodies.

The way I shouted for everyone to come outside this instance you'd have thought someone was injured, long story short we've a lot of maneuvering of hutches etc and Pop goes to the vets at 9.10am on Friday wink wink... although I am reliably informed he could already have done the dirty after Bang had birthed - oh heck.

We have a vague idea for names but it will depend on whether we keep them - we will look after them until they are old enough to be 'fixed' as we never wanted this to happen and we're not irresponsibly going to let lots of babies come along.

Tiny, very hot and barely a bunny except for bunny ears and teeny tiny teeth...
Look at all that fur in the nest - amazing

Before any concerned comments are raised, the bunny family are being left well alone with a single physical check each day to make sure that Bang is feeding them adequately and that we haven't lost one in the process. Nice full tummies today so all appears to be going well - it could all change on a sixpence so we're sitting with baited breath for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Back to baking...

It has been a while since I have baked and then finished off a cake with full icing and presentation. When a colleague asked me (jokingly) for chocolate over 3 tiers I knew just how to surprise her - 33 rich chocolate cupcakes with light chocolate cream cheese frosting and handmade fondant flowers painted and finished with lustre dust.

Oh and did I mention I presented them on my 4 tier acrylic stand x




Thursday, 29 September 2011

Checking in...

Currently a long way from home on an impromptu trip but returning very soon, meet our neighbours, early morning alarm call, friends to chase and resident crumb eaters ...

Back soon x


Monday, 19 September 2011

Self Indulgence...

Money, ah - oh to have it in abundance or failing that enough not to feel exceedingly guilty when spending it on oneself rather than the weekly food shop or the wee ones...
(we do play the lottery so when I say abundance enough to pay off the mortgage would be bliss)

we're not in a bad way at all so this isn't a complaining post but just me admitting to a gorgeous spur of the moment had to have it post.

A friend of mine who can be found here produces the most lovely handpainted yarn and sells at my local wool shop; into which I popped today with the purpose of a needle purchase to help in my sock making, alas none available but I did find this...
Suri Silk Lace mmmmmmm, squishy, sooo soft and my favourite shade of green! Now, what to make?

Apologies for a really poor photo but every time I crop it Windows Picture thingamajiggy bins it somewhere so after 7 re-shoots at twilight I've decided to leave the windowsill in shot!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Useful stitchery...

I ran into one of my senior school teachers the other day and it made me reminisce about some of the other inspirational teachers I had the privilege of learning from.

One lady jumps to mind every time as she taught me the basics and the not so basic of many things textile based (Mrs Davis). I also still have the first knitting sample I followed in her class in my files of paperwork and spot it regularly, it's quite probably the worst bit of knitting I had ever done but then I did go on to teach myself more techniques and perhaps most importantly how to spot my mistakes!
 Anyway, all my plastic peg baskets have suffered in the recent windy weather - falling off their hooks and being dropped on countless occasions so I set to last night and using the skills taught me (for strengthened seams), I put together this little peg bag. Very little chance of this smashing to smithereens and with the double stitched seams of ripping either, the only design flaw so far is that it could do with having been made a little bigger.

I think Mrs Davis would be proud - especially seeing as I stitched my finger to the old viking husquavrna machine during my sewing machine driving license test all those years ago. I even had a play around with some scraps of fabric and remembered how to make flat, denim and hemmed seams without too much trouble.Thank you Mrs Davis...
Is there a skill that you remember being taught and have used recently?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Fiaell pattern arrived!

Do you remember this scarf...

Time has marched on and I had completely forgotten about making the scarf and that when I won the magazine competition along with other keen designers that it would be added to a compilation book.

On Saturday this dropped on my doormat and is now officially available to buy. I hopped, I skipped and I sang around the living room for a good 20 minutes then of course rang my mum to tell her my pattern had been published!
Scarves - published by the Guild of Master Craftsman Publications.

The scarfs name has been changed but other than that look at that gorgeous model showing it off so well...

Can't express how pleased I am with the book and how lovely it was to see something I had created in print officially (they even attributed it to me, which was a lovely touch). It's a fabulous value book with 30 patterns in total and a good chunk I've never ever seen before in one guise or another which is refreshing. Well done to all who have had their work included - I'm never parting with my copy so expect to be making lots of the patterns as soon as I can!

Thank you Knitting magazine for a great competition and for my copy of the book x

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Gregory Bear...

It's happened, our first piece of homework has come home for our pre-schooler!
Gregory goes home with different children each weekend and in his little backpack is a diary to record his adventures. So far we've taken lots of pictures but not filled it in until they're printed out.
I will share the end of yesterdays trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park as I've been playing with my new roidizer app.
I wonder what else we can find for Gregory to do?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Crafting FO...

I have a folder on my PC that I store all the photos of things I've made (in fact I have a few folders - one for each year) and I just uploaded some pictures of the following and realised that the last dated upload was the end of May! I have been making but it seems to have taken an age what with our landscaping efforts thrown into it too.

Anyhoo, here are the results of my efforts - the first a Shrug/Bolero that I am yet to name and is of my own design - I'll sit and work out the patter if anyone is interested, the second is called Cardi Shrug and the pattern is available here through Ravelry (sorry, you need to be a member but joining is free and the benefits for any knitter/crocheter humungous soooo many patterns, many of them free)...

Seems I have a thing for grey at the moment - not sure why, think I need to get some colour back in my life!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Glorious...



at least they are to me and look who has been visiting my sunflower head for days on end now, whatever will Mrs Ladybird do when it blooms??

Monday, 15 August 2011

Autumn/Hallowe'en swap...


As the first swap I ever joined was an Autumn/Hallowe'en one I couldn't resist when I saw this one come around - if you feel like joining in leave a comment over at Blueberry Heart (click on pic for link straight to post) it's open until 21st August and you can choose your theme x

Sunny Garden Pics...

As promised I waited and got a better shot of the finished garden in the sunshine and minus the washing line too!
And from the bottom down a couple of steep steps... wonder who that is in my shot - they see a camera these days and want to be able to see themselves on the screen!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Birthday Jaunt...

Happy birthday dh! We jumped on a train and found ourselves squeezed to within an inch of our lives like battery hens for an hour amidst many other fellow rugby supporters. People gave up trying to get on 2 stops later, I will forever be amazed at how another dozen slotted in to our carriage when we thought it was full already!
We got to cardiff hot but not bothered as we knew we'd all fit in the countries best stadium. 73307 to be exact. We had a great lofty view of the entire pitch and were treated to a slow but gripping match.
I can't fault cardiff city for its fan treatment but the rail companies should have put longer trains on, it cannot be safe to have that kind of shoving and those numbers crammed on to a 3 short carriage train. Anyway it didn't dampen spirit's and the singalong led by a jovial friend made the journey seem half the distance.
A little shot of the view for you...


Monday, 25 July 2011

Do these work...


I really like this saying, I just wish I could learn to weather lifes storms no matter the size by actually remembering this whilst they're happening!

Nothing in particular has sparked this though process - just a little musing and an accumulation of some smaller annoyances recently. Think I need to get back to some therapeutic crafting rather than all the demolition and landscaping of late.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Stage Finale...


Sorry but this is the worst picture in the world as its so busy but also in other ways the best as it shows just how much more use we're getting from our newly landscaped garden - the decking is gone YAY! We have a patio that dries in minutes once the rain has stopped instead of over a couple of days and 3ft more lawn too (at least once the seed thats been sown comes up - should be quick in this warm and wet weather we're having). There a finishing touches and plenty of tidying up to do out there but the hard graft is out of the way and both DH and I are recovering from lifting and sledge hammering we did last Friday (I still can't grip things very tightly as my hands have just given up). It took 3 whole days of demolishing the old and laying the new to get this stage done - I have no idea how the 60 minute makeover crew do a whole house even with loads of people there!

For completeness here's the before shot taken on day one before any work started back in March (shocking length of time to do this)...

I promise to get another picture on a day when it's all been tidied properly but that could be a very long time coming!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Race for life 2011...



A couple of weekends ago my Mum, Sister and myself took part in the annual Race For Life event held at Cheltenham Race Course. Now, this year they added a 10k circuit to what was usually only a 5k and no we didn't do it this time but have plans to next year yay!

We all Jog/Walked from start to finish, Faye completed first in 42 minutes and Mum and I achieved 45 minutes. I've been working hard ever since and have got my 3 mile lap down to 39 minutes and dropping so seems like the 10k is a good incentive for next year,

here we are after the hottest day in weeks and we chose to exercise in it - a great achievement and lots of fun x

p.s. Me, Sister, Mum x

Monday, 11 July 2011

Change is as good as...

A lick of purple paint chosen by biggest little man. Sadolin garden paint, Elizabeth's plum jam, what a name and what a colour- love it! Decking removal begins in earnest on Wednesday with a big dollop of uncertainty about how big a job it really is. For now a small but very satisfying garden change x


Monday, 4 July 2011

Phew...

I've had a pretty poorly little boy for the last few days, he came down with a nasty chest infection that left him wheezing for breath and barking a very dry cough all night long.
Thankfully he's showing some signs of getting better, he's not coughing as much but still very wheezy, whilst he's remained cheerful his energy levels have been very low. We spent a lovely half an hour sitting with the bunnies trying to give them carrots - they're very tolerant of us and didn't bat an eyelid at little man chasing them around with carrots.
Can't believe how big they are now, in a few short weeks they've gone from being small enough to sit in my hands to big VERY hoppy rabbits.

They really helped cheer up a recovering little boy today, thank you Pop & Bang x

Friday, 1 July 2011

A summer evening...





mmmm, I wander past my lavender every evening after putting the bunnies to bed and it smells divine. I can't resist brushing my hand through the flowers and thought I would share a shot of it as well as some of the other little beauties in my very torn up garden...