Friday, 6 December 2013

Holiday in France, and a bit of Switzerland

Ok, so Summer holidays were good. We had a lovely time around Morzine.

Mountain biking, walking and making the most of our Summer season multi pass for the ski lifts was good fun. We got over the border into Switzerland one day, thank goodness the bar for lunch took credit cards as we'd not got any Swiss francs with us.

You know it's a steep ride when it takes 3 hours to climb to your lunch, and 20 minutes to get back down the valley.

In the swimming area of this beautiful lake I swam with tadpoles just getting their little legs. They're called 'tetards' in France.

We stayed in clean and basic accommodation with Alpine Elements and were fed really well. Cake every day to accompany watching the Tour de France and a varied 3 course evening dinner menu.

Good fun had by all, and a few achy muscles to remember it by!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Lemon and lime squash and my home-grown redcurrants

I made home-made lemon and lime squash to use up some fruit which we'd bought for juicing and which hadn't got used.

I can't find the recipe I used, but it's very similar to one used by Hugh of River Cottage (see below)

Some recipes use cream of tartar and citric acid, but as a) it was so tasty it got drunk in a flash and b) the fruit was sharp enough I found it wasn't necessary.

I have posted before about making redcurrant jelly. It's a firm favourite with my family as it's not too sweet and keeps its fruity tang after being made into jam. It's also good with sweet or savoury.

I have previously been given the red currants I have used, but was given a redcurrant bush last year. I was hoping to include a home-grown element this year.

So I have made these lovelies:

Using my usual recipe of choice, a wonderful Delia concoction. And what about the home-grown element, well maybe next year. I only got this many currants....go on, can you spot them?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Ginger cake for Macmillan cancer 'Big Coffee Morning'

I have been busy, but not blogging, since our Summer Fair.

The Fair was a total crash, it was a baking hot day and there was no-one about in the town centre. We had a trickle of people in who knew us, and managed to pull in a few people for home-made cake and coffee. We didn't make a loss, but for the time and effort put in we'd have made more money rattling buckets or packing bags at our local superstore. Boo and hiss.

It's not all to waste, though, we've got a ready prepared tombola for our next event and I've listed a few items on ebay to see how they go.

I'm intending to catch up over the next few weeks with my blogging activity, and pull out a few of the highlights from recent months. It's not going to be everything, and it's not going to be in chronological order!

We had some lovely people at work organise a bake sale for the Macmillan coffee morning, and I'd like to proudly show off my efforts:

I was really pleased with it. The recipe was from all recipes uk, I just increased the ginger content.

It was quick to pull together and looks pretty much like the picture - result!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Summer fair preparation

The 1st Meadow Covert Scout Group summer fair is coming to the West Bridgford Community Hall on Saturday 6th July 10.30 to 2.30.

We're fundraising to update the Scout hut in Edwalton, and to fund the ongoing activities of the Group so that we can provide scouting activities for as low a cost as possible. We've already had great support from the people of Edwalton, Gamston and West Bridgford in our collection of the Sainsbury's active kids vouchers, securing over 1500 vouchers. That's not bad for being in an area surrounded by collecting schools where loads of people shop at Morrisons.

update...... after counting up the vouchers from last week - we've topped 2000!

We'll have a tombola, home made cakes, children's games and a craft stall all run by the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Sea Scouts.

We're also delighted to be joined by some professionals! We've got the Black Acres Soap Pantry (as featured in my previous post from the Handmade Boutique in the Mailbox) and Katherine with her Phoenix cards. If you can't come on the day but wish to help out the Scout Group card orders placed with Katherine using the reference 'SCOUTS' will earn a donation to the Group.

The Beavers and I are running the craft stall so I am getting ready with preparing some wares to sell on the day. As work is in progress I therefore have all sorts of things round my house currently!

We're going to have felt flowers, felt and shrink plastic magnets, brooches and iron-on clothes patches for starters. I've worked out most of the designs now, it's just getting into full-scale production mode. I think there may also be some room for some bookmarks made by the Beavers. 

Here's a little taster of what we've got on offer.....

Felt corsages (with pins on the back for easy attachment to coats, bags etc)


Patches for ironing onto the holes at the knee in children's trousers or for decorating bags


Hair bobbles


Friday, 17 May 2013

Happy anniversary! Afternoon Tea at Stoke Rochford Hall

Today we had a lovely afternoon tea at Stoke Rochford hall near to Grantham. It was a little odd to drive past a pre-fab conference centre to the hall, but MLH read some literature that it was once a teacher training college so that made a bit more sense.

The tea was beautiful....

Sandwiches (beef, crab, cream cheese and cucumber)

but the cake was better......

Scones, jam and cream ( and butter too if you're MLH x)
Chocolate brownie
Fruited tartlets
Fruit cake

Far too much for one sitting, but the lovely people there gave me a doggie bag to bring home. So I have lovely cake for tea time tomorrow too!

The hall itself is rather lovely, as are the variety of animals we saw on our drive through the countryside home (ducks, lambs, lambs mums, a hare, pheasants and a deer's bottom disappearing into a hedge - presumably there was a deer's top somewhere in the middle of the hedge, but that's pure speculation).

I'd also arranged for us to go and see the local theatre group's production of 'Ghost Writer' and I can thoroughly recommend it. The team always put so much effort into their productions and it really shows. At the interval you're left willing for the time to go quickly so you know what the end of the story is! I really like the way they had the ghost materialising from strange places, great lighting effects and several 'play within a play' moments where it was difficult to know where to look as there was so much going on on stage.

We had front-row seats and a lovely half-time cuppa for the bargain price of £7.50. Funny and with a bit of suspense, Ghost writer is a definite must-see. Thanks WB Theatre team. Although, shows are all sold out so unfortunately unless you've already booked you won't be going.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

A project in progress

I've rediscovered my crochet hook now with all of the babies arriving over the past couple of years, and have begun a project for our home too. My hubby has asked for a king sized granny-square blanket for the bed. I have been working on the project since last winter and now have 250 granny squares. Phew.

That's taken a lot of scraps and a lot of time. I like multi coloured grannies so switching in lots of different colours takes a while.

There are two shoeboxes full of squares in the loft and another in progress.

The granny itself is straightforward and there are loads of tutorials online.

This is part of my work in progress....

and a selection of my favourite squares...

I'll eventually join them all together using a plain colour. I haven't decided whether to use white, like this example, which looks fresh and modern, or go for the traditional black.

I've calculated that I need a few more squares yet so it may well be next year (at least) before this gets finished!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Birthday party

A birthday party in this post, one of our friends was....

this week. I painted the card using some lovely new paints from Reeves I got for Christmas. Great clarity and very smooth.

The party was held near Birmingham, and I got to have a bit of a boogie. Indeed, there ain't no party like an S Club party! Love it. 

The cake was fabulous, the birthday boy having made a trip to Antarctica and being taken by the lovely penguins there.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sunshine and a baby hat

Continuing along with baby season this week saw another selection of offerings off to a new home. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the blanket before it went, but I did add another little gift in the package last minute.

I fell in love with this really cute little turban hat from this mama makes stuff, Carrie has come up with a great pattern. Here's my version (please excuse the terrible lighting):

Once on the baby it looked lovely, to the extent that her Grandma has asked for the pattern to make some up in her craft group for the local Church (where they sell gifts for Church funds or make gifts for local charities). Carrie has very graciously given her permission for her pattern to be used in this way, so that was really lovely.

We also went on a shopping trip to nearby Melton Mowbray, after some yummy pork pies (no horse in these local specialities). 

The church in Melton looked beautiful, so here's a snap.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Lakes and Coniston

We had a lovely weekend away this weekend in the Lake District.

The journey up was a bit hairy, with snow sweeping in gusts on a busy M6, but we got up to junction 36 safely. I can say my nerves were a bit jangled though when we got off the motorway!

After travelling for a little while it became obvious that the main road to Windermere was going nowhere fast, so we diverted off to Kendal.

We stayed (last-minute!) at the Shakespeare Inn in Kendal. MLH (my lovely husband) did a fantastic job of squeezing the car through the arch of the coaching inn, there were inches to spare and it was quite slippy getting the car lined up. You can see the tyre tracks through the arch here:

The locals were very friendly, within minutes of arriving I'd been asked for a hug by a tipsy lady!

Not fancying a long walk for tea, we ate at the nearby Thai restaurant. My pad thai was exactly what I needed, filling, hot and flavourful.

Back to the Inn - we had a lovely room, with a cosy bed and hot shower. Breakfast was great - full English with plenty of tea and toast. It was a very good decision. The next morning started beautifully, with sun against the snow:

We were back on our way to Coniston, and the decision to stop in Kendal was reinforced by the number of abandoned cars on the main road. It's not a long road (maybe 8 miles the whole length) so I can quite understand choosing to walk, rather than spend a cold and uncomfortable night in the car.

Our ultimate destination was the Crown Inn, Coniston which was no problem taking the roads slowly. We were doing well with nice rooms, and our one here had a lovely bath.

We managed to walk round a bit of the lake, and back over the lower hills in the remaining part of the day. 

I even managed to get a paddle, in one of the streams leading down to the lake. It's one of my favourite things when we go walking. The snow melt was cold, but not the coldest ever paddle (that was from glacier melt in Switzerland!). I really enjoy having cold feet and warm everything else when you out your walking boots back on.

It got a bit drizzly later, but we didn't get too cold. It was great to sink into that bath, though!

Another full English later (MLH had kippers) we set off back home, and managed a speedy journey thanks to the overnight rain. There was a lot of water coming off the hills, though...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Playing with photo editing

I've been playing wit my 'snapseed' app on the computer. I am quite pleased with the results. 

This rather dull industrial junk turned into a mad max style shelter.

What do you think?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Winter cooking

Cold weather deserves some comfort cooking, and I made these biscotti as a gift for a friend when I went round to visit their lovely new house.

I used a recipe from All Recipes to make them and they turned out really well, lighter in texture and softer than the rock-hard commercial versions you find in coffee shops.

I lightly spiced the biscuits with allspice and cinnamon, and as they were a gift wrapped them in some of my special Lakeland presentation bags. I really feel it makes the difference, and at £3 a package for 50 bags they aren't too costly.

I also used the All Recipes site for the Christmas biscuits I made for my family - they had the gingerbread biscotti version!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Baby boy gifts off to their new home

The baby boy blanket has now gone to its new home.

It's based on the traditional granny square stitch, but worked in stripes of red and blue.

You can see the detail here, that it's just three treble crochets into each gap then a chain stitch (and repeat, and repeat).

I did the stripes in countable rows, so that we go from 1 red row, up to 5 on the left.

To go along with the blanket, and to try my hand at a new skill (buttonholes) I also made these baby dungarees following a great tutorial at Me Sew Crazy:

I made a plainer version than the tutorial went for, omitting the front placket, but I was still pleased with the result. They're made of nice soft denim and lined with white cotton so that the legs can be turned up for baby if needs be.

The gifts went down well at the baby shower and will hopefully be useful and used!