Sewing Box

I got inspired and dug out my sewing box that has been sat on top of my old wardrobe at my parents house for several years. It was full of finished, half finished and new cross stitch creations.

I’m very excited to get creating again and I am determined to finish off the started cross stitch. I also managed to do a little bit to my latest cross stitch. Can anyone see what it is yet?

Wish me luck!

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Can you guess what it is yet?

Hello!

So today I actually did some crafting for the first time in ages!

Yesterday I went out for the afternoon with my mom and bought two little Christmas cross stitch kits. I always do this towards Christmas and to be honest sometimes they get completed and sometimes they don’t. However today I went to a national trust place with my husband and we saw some tapestry samplers and I got inspired.

Our house is very old and we are trying to keep the furniture and decorations in keeping with the house and I got thinking it could do with some samplers or tapestries on the walls. So I started with one of my little Christmas kits to get practicing before a big project and to be honest it got addictive. I really did not want to put it down and go to bed.

So can anybody tell me what it is that I’m stitching?

Fingers crossed I finish. I hate back stitch so I tend to give up but I am determined this time.

Thank for reading.

Happy crafting.

Apologies for being away so long

Hello everyone

I am here to apologise for my lack of posting. Basically my crafting has disappeared due to tennis elbow flaring up. However I am still doing my baking and cooking when I have time and lots of book reviewing.

The book reviewing I have moved to a different blog which can be found at ladybookdragon.com so all my book followers please feel free to follow my new blog.

Just recently I baked and decorated two birthday cakes for my husband and my joint birthdays. The musical note one was chocolate brownie with chocolate fudge icing and the book one was a plain sponge with royal icing.

Thank you

ladybookdragon.com

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A Yummy Challenge

The last couple of days I have been away on a little break. First to Bath which I love and adore and always leave kicking and screaming, then on to Castle Combe to celebrate an 80th birthday party. Whilst away I did not take my knitting, so sadly the jumper has paused slightly. However, this evening I’ve done quite a bit and can now report I am 46 rows from the finish of the second sleeve.

On the way from Bath to Castle Combe we visited the National Trust property Dyrham Park, which is beautiful. We went last year but I can not remember much, as I felt very ill at the time. So this time I tried to take in as much as possible. It was really interesting to see some of the restoration work they were doing as well and see some of the exquisite tapestries and bed hangings.

Anyway, in the gift shop I went a little wild and bought a few books and one of them is this massive recipe book Classic British Cooking by Sarah Edington. Once I realised this book had an Aga method for each recipe I had to buy it.

So, this evening I’ve taken it to bed with me and I think next week I’m going to give some of the recipes a try. Watch this space to see what recipes I succeed with or disasters when I misjudge the old Aga temperatures.

A Day of Baking

You just can’t beat a day of baking.

After a morning of teaching I came home and got the mixer going. To start I made a cherry cake ready for my mom and sister who were coming over for a visit.

I didn’t manage to get a full picture as we started eating it pretty much as soon as it was cool enough. The recipe I used was a Louise Walker Aga recipe, however I did add more cherries but I was still disappointed with the amount of cherries in it. Next time I will add even more! Sadly it caught a little bit on the sides but I think this is due to not using an Aga tin. I find that with a non Aga tin the heat can get through the tin too intensely and sometimes burn the cake. I really should of learnt my lesson by now and got an Aga loaf tin. It was thankfully a hit with everyone and my husband is very happy to have cake leftover for the bank holiday weekend.

The next bake is for my brothers birthday party. Giant cookies! This is another Louise Walker and I love it. It’s even easier to make with the aid of the mixer. These cookies take quite a long time to make as you can only do two at a time as they are so big. I don’t risk doing more trays as I am not too comfortable with baking with the Aga and worry about getting it right temperature wise. However they only take ten minutes to bake so super quick to get through the batch of cookie dough. Hopefully everyone will like them. Sadly a few caught a little. Still getting used to the Aga! I think it might take me several years to get this temperature thing right.

So now it is time to sit back and enjoy a mug of tea with a cookie because every baker should try her product before letting it be eaten by the public.

Happy baking!

Cable or not to cable?

I’m being a good girl and trying to finish the jumper before I move on to another project. This means that every night without fail I am doing at least five rows of knitting and slowly the second sleeve is growing.

Most nights I do more than five rows, so I hope it will be finished soon and then I can move on to the front.

I’m really excited about the front as it has a little bit of cable in it and I really enjoy knitting in cable as I find it makes the knitting more interesting. I love how the pattern of the cable develops and you get this pattern in the knit that looks like it shouldn’t be possible to do.

When I was at university I did two major projects one was a hooded cardigan in Aran which was all cabled and I loved it (also the first time I did a knitted pocket). The second was a a dress which was entirely cabled and took me about two years to complete, mainly due to the fact it got so heavy towards the end, I could only knit for short periods of time. I absolutely loved these knits and I am thinking of doing the cardigan again, as mine is very bobbly and fluffy now. Cabling is just so much fun!

What do my fellow knitting enthusiasts prefer? Cable or no cable?

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Blurb

‘In the town they tell the story of the great pearl – how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife, Juana, and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man’s mind.’

The Pearl is Steinbeck’s heartbreaking short parable about wealth and the darkness and evil it can instill in even the most generous of men’s hearts.

Review

I gave this book two stars out of five on Goodreads.

I must admit I have only ever read one other Steinbeck book, Of Mice and Men and I truly loved it. I read it in a day and reread it the next if I remember correctly. So when I read a short story by Jeffrey Archer with Steinbeck in, I thought I would read another of his books. The Pearl was the only one I owned that I knew for certain where it was (sadly most of my books are still in boxes from moving).

I started reading The Pearl with high hopes but sadly I just couldn’t get into it. The size of the book is tiny, a mere 120 pages in my edition, so I should of easily read it in a day but because I couldn’t settle with it, I read it in small chunks.

It starts off with Kino and his wife and child. Kino is a pearl diver and lives in terrible poverty but he is happy. He lives his wife and child and getting up to see the sunrise and happily sits and makes a fuss of a stray dog who is his friend. However, when Kino finds a huge pearl, so big that it gets called ‘the pearl of the world’ he gets obsessed with what this pearl could mean for him and his family and his character starts to change. The first sign in my opinion is Kino ignoring the stray dog and not being kind to it.

The pearl only brings out the worst in people, including Kino and Juana his wife, can see this but is helpless to what is happening.

I enjoyed how music was constantly referenced in this book. The fact that Kino could hear a family tune, a tune for the pearl and an evil tune was really fascinating and basically for me the best part of the book. Hence the two stars instead of one.

The book obviously has a massive moral about greed and how it effects different people but it was just all a bit too much for me and far to predictable. I worked out the ending very quickly.

All in all a disappointment but I will not give up on Steinbeck and will try another of his works in the future.

Just Before I Died by S.K. Tremayne

I won a book! I was so excited to read this book before it is published. So I just had to do a little review on Goodreads. I gave this book five stars out of five stars.

Blurb

Sometimes you can’t even trust yourself…

It was just a patch of ice. Just a bit of bad luck. But it was nearly enough to kill Kath Redway, spinning her car into Burrator Reservoir in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park.

Miraculously, Kath escapes her accident with a few bruises and amnesia. She is shocked but delighted to be back in her remote moorland farmhouse with her handsome husband Adam, and her shy, gifted daughter Lyla. She’s alive!

But her family is not so delighted. Her husband is cold, even angry. Her daydreaming daughter talks ever more strangely, about a ‘man on the moor’. Then, as chilling fragments of memory return, Kath realizes her ‘accident’ was nothing of the kind. And now her life collapses into a new world of darkness, menace, and terror.

Review

I was very lucky to win this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Once I started reading this book I was hooked! I just couldn’t wait to see where the story would go next and the ending took me by complete surprise. I could never have predicted the ending.

The descriptions of Dartmoor scenes were perfect and made me feel like I was there amongst the standing stones and shiver at the bleakness. I also loved how the author wove more than one storyline together and how it all fit together. This story was like a detective novel but it’s the main character trying to work out what happened to her that night of the accident.

The book is an excellent read and brilliantly written I highly recommend it and feel very lucky to have read the book before publication. I would definitely put this on my To Read list.

Let us have Cake!

My husband bought me a gift! You can probably tell from the image above what it is. After the simnel cake disaster I haven’t attempted anymore cakes and kept telling my husband I wasn’t baking anything, until I had a mixer. Well I think my husband thought the only way to get any cake, brownies, cookies etc was to buy the mixer.

It was a very nice surprise when it turned up, especially as it is my dream mixer and in red so it matches the AGA.

So I had the perfect recipe to try it with. I went for a cake recipe I have been dying to try for ages but haven’t gone near it without a mixer, due to the amount of egg whisking involved.

I went for an almond and orange cake. This recipe is rather different as it has no flour or sugar in. The replacement for the flour is ground almonds and six eggs and the replacement for the sugar is the honey and two large oranges.

To start with I had to boil the oranges for an hour. No problem on the AGA, I do so enjoy having the heat there to use whenever I like. Then the oranges had to be blended to a purée. After all this I finally got to use the mixer. It whisked the eggs together till they were light and frothy and then I gradually folded in the other ingredients.

Now this recipe isn’t a recipe designed for the AGA, so I had to improvise slightly. The recipe said to bake for an hour, so I thought the cake baker would be the best option. I was so happy I chose the cake baker as it worked to perfection. The cake did take longer to bake, an hour and thirty minutes altogether but it is the first cake I have baked in a long time, that actually came out good.

The cake is a little dense, as I was expecting but not as much as I thought it would be originally. It is really yummy either as a dessert with some cream, custard or yoghurt, I prefer yoghurt or a slice on its own as a snack with a mug of tea is perfect.

The verdict is in. One beautiful cake, a brilliant mixer and a very happy husband who now can eat cake!

Persevering

Well I thought it was high time for a jumper update.

Sadly the jumper has stalled a bit, other distractions have taken over. Another knitting project which I will reveal soon, music and baking.

However, tonight I did a solid hour of knitting and it felt great. Also most nights I fall asleep on the sofa at about 9pm and tonight I felt myself nodding off but once I started knitting I didn’t fall asleep. Hopefully, this will mean I sleep better once in bed.

I now have a completed back to the jumper and one sleeve.

Ta da! One sleeve!

So the long task of knitting the second sleeve has begun.

I always find the second sleeve very dull to knit. I think I might take a leaf out of my grandmothers book next time and knit both sleeves together. I never met my grandmother but my mum tells me she did a lot of knitting and always knit both sleeves together so she didn’t get bored knitting the second. Will definitely try it with the next jumper patter.

Anyway toodles for now.