Saturday, 7 April 2018

Five on Friday - April

Hello everyone, I'm joining with Five on Friday with five random things happening here at QT's house. Ha ha, peeps have asked for him to feature on posts and I thought today on 'Five on Fridays' was ideal. I'm going to hand over to 'himself' to write his own piece to finish off this week's post. 

1) Enjoying my new frog for Easter from the Husband. When I got up and went downstairs on Easter Sunday, I found him (the frog) on the table. He's grey with white raised patterning.

He's outside with the other frog. There seems to be a frog gathering in the garden now as the - frog below - is closeby.

2) Marvelling at the Amaryllis Triffid from last year. I had trimmed it down at the end of flowering and put it in the front porch, watering it only about once a month. I'm not sure on the correct care but it seemed the right thing to do at the time.

                                            The Perfectly Imperfect Woman - cover

3) Listening to 'The Perfectly Imperfect Woman' by Milly Johnson.

Recently I've listened to -

Meet me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson
The Yorkshire Pudding Club by Milly Johnson

Before these, I've listened to -
Summer at the Lake - Erica James
The Dandelion Years - Erica James
Airs and Graces - Erica James
Hidden Talents - Erica James
It's the Little Things - Erica James
Act of Faith - Erica James 
I love Erica James' books, she explores relationships within Erica's books and she's very entertaining.

And these -
One Night in Italy - Lucy Diamond
The Secret of Happiness - Lucy Diamond
The Year of Taking Chances - Lucy Diamond
Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond     
The House of New Beginnings - Lucy Diamond
Me and Mr Jones - Lucy Diamond
Summer With My Sister - Lucy Diamond

Lucy Diamonds' books were all entertaining with a few lol moments.

                                            THE FOURTH FRIEND a gripping crime thriller full of stunning twists by [ELLIS, JOY]

4) Reading this book for the book club.

5) QT Watching - as you can see, I'm full of life! Aren't my whiskers and ear fluff just lovely, M isn't allowed whiskers but me... I get away with allsorts. I mustn't cough up a fur ball, or I'll be shut out this room with the morning sunshine. My people are so fussy.
Not sure what went wrong with the camera settings, it's ruining my complexion! I'm looking a bit washed out now, maybe I'll take a selfie next time. Ermm, maybe not, sounds a lot of work, I am retired after all. Biscuit lady often says I'm here for my retirement and tells me I'm looking tired and need a rest, I'm allowed. Meow!
Well thanks for stopping by, I need to catch up on my sleep now zzzz
QT x

*Have you read - The Fourth Friend by Joy Ellis?
*Have you ever made Pate? A strange question, I know. When I was shopping this week, all the pates in several shops had - 'may contain nuts'. I'm avoiding nuts totally at the moment as I continue sorting diet issues. So I'm thinking of having a go at making my own pate. I've seen a few tasty sounding recipes in a Delia Smith cookery book - The black complete version.
* No craft today - I started knitting socks but got distracted and did some more crochet. What are you crafting at the moment?
* What are you reading today?
* I'm off to cook dinner - jacket potato with bacon, tomato, mushrooms (of course) and grated cheese. I may do a salad as well. What are you having for dinner?

Well bye for now, thank you for stopping by. I love reading your comments and will be popping round to catch up with blog reading over the weekend.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Cookery Calendar Challenge - April

Hello and welcome to my kitchen for another Cookery Calendar Challenge hosted by Penny at The Homemade Heart. I will start with a confession, this is not the recipe book I'd mentioned last time. To be truthful, time ran away from me and with the Easter weekend drawing to a close and abysmal rain today, I felt like cooking cheese scones and chocolate cake with mini eggs on top. I haven't baked anything sweet or savoury for the Cookery Calendar Challenge before and it seemed a good day for baking. Both of these recipes are made differently to how I've previously made them in other recipe books.  

                                           BE-RO Home Baked Recipe Book 41st Edition - Brand New

The cookery book that I choose to use 'on impulse' was this one. The book is approx 8" x 4" ish in size and £2.99 inc p&p UK. The link provides information about Be.Ro as a company which is an interesting read. Inside the book is divided into sections - Scones, biscuits, pastry, cakes, puddings, batters, young bakers, sauces icings and fillings. In short a baker's dream without being overloaded with too much choice. There isn't any 'chat' preceding each recipe that we've become accustomed to in recipe books such as a Nigella cookery book, with her familiar magazine style, gorgeous photography and entertaining read. That said, each recipe has a clear photo, a prep and cook time printed on an oven glove symbol.

All the recipes are clearly labelled and most have a tip or alternative such as - serve hot with butter or delicious served with your favourite soup. Which was the tip for the cheese scones. This is the second copy of this recipe book that I've bought. The only thing I'm not keen on is the 'well used look' achieved by printing tea stain looking splashes throughout the book for authenticity. It sounds crazy now but I remember trying to wipe off a stain, thinking I'd ruined my copy. I'm the sort of person who'd never write in a book - except for studying purposes. 

So onto the recipes, first up was the Cheese scones which I absolutely love. Warm and cheesy, split open with butter gently melting on top. You get the idea. They were delicious. I've made cheese scones many times before in lots of different ways; with mustard powder, with paprika, with cream of  tartar and without one or more of those. I've made them with both large and small round cutters, incidentally mini cheese scones buttered at kids parties for adults only - are divine! Makes up for everything. I was hopeful that this method of making scones would give a good rise.   

The trick with scones, once you have your dough mixture just right - together but not cracking or too wet - is not to roll it too thin. An inch and no less is perfect and not to over handle. I always double the mix with cheese scones because... well because. I omitted the mustard powder, mainly because we didn't have any but also M doesn't like mustard, no paprika, cayenne or tartaric acid either, though this recipe doesn't call for them anyway.

Having first mixed the self Raising flour, salt and pepper, butter, cheese, an egg and milk in the food processor with the blade (cheese cut up small) saving on needing to grate cheese. I placed 2 stoneware pizza plates in the oven to heat up 220* I divided the dough and rolled 2 circles before placing them on baking paper, cutting each into 6. I brushed them with milk and sprinkling them with some grated cheese. Then lifted them onto the pizza plates and baked for 12 minutes.

I will definitely cook them this way again, so much easier than continual rolling and cutting. Having the pizza plates hot - cooked the underneath straight away. Also having double the mix but on separate plates ensured that I didn't roll the dough too thin to gain 12 decent sized slices. I was happy that they rose well and the family loved them. 

Next was a chocolate cake for Easter. I made this as an 'all-in-one' recipe so used soft cake margarine. I made it in the Kenwood mixer and kept feeding ingredients in. I know that mixers are supposed to be better than food processors for cake making (light and airy) but... they never seem to mix the fat in that well. I ended up using a spatula to mash and beat things up a bit, before turning up the speed and hoping everything didn't curdle.

With the self-raising flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, soft brown sugar, eggs, plain melted chocolate (which is the secret that makes it taste so good), fat, vanilla extract, sour cream and milk everything is mixed well.
The mixture is split between 2 cake tins and placed in the oven on pre-heated trays, then left to cool completely.
For the filling, double cream is whipped and placed between the sponge halves. 200g of melted chocolate is drizzled over the top and roasted chopped nuts can be sprinkled on the top. I don't eat nuts and it is Easter so... mini chocolate eggs are perfect.

The cake was a success and the family loved it. Mind you - chocolate cake, how could anyone not like it. Saying that, my Dad doesn't like cooked chocolate in any form, maybe there are others? I would cook this recipe again but would make sure the fat was room temperature, it would probably mix better then.

I don't always follow every step of a recipe, I change things to suit me depending on how long something will take or the ingredients in the cupboard. For this cake I had everything I needed and plenty of time, so it was more about cooking purely for the enjoyment. Overall I like this cookery book, though it's a shame it's small in size. Reading glasses help of course but... if someone wants to speak to me or I need to dash out the room, the world looks very strange. I'd definitely cook from it again.

It was a shame M was asleep after working taxi weekend. It's handy to have someone to 'de-bomb the kitchen'... oops! I cooked both of these recipes in one morning and there was an awful lot of washing up.

Thank you for reading about my Cookery Calendar Challenge, maybe next time I'll take another look at the Lincolnshire cookbook and try 2 things from there.


Friday, 30 March 2018

Bring me sunshine - Five on Friday

Hello everyone, I hope you are well. I'm joining with Five on Friday to celebrate Good Friday. Some of these photos were taken today and some last weekend.

1) Inside cheerfulness 

2) Cheerful baskets teen 2 and M planted these up last year, last weekend I noticed that the flowers were opening up again.

3) Pots and borders - need to do some weeding. 

4) Finished washcloth for M. I took it up to the bathroom for a sunny photo. For the washcloth pattern here I added a border of dc (uk terms), aran 100% cotton yarn and used a 5mm crochet hook. I also added a few more rows to the pattern to make it square. 

5) QT 'resting' in the sun for a change. Cats, they say they sleep 18 hrs a day. I'm sure it's more than that.

Thank you for stopping by to read my sunny Five on Friday.

I don't usually put anything Christian on my blog but as it's Easter, I'll leave a link to UCB - United Christian Broadcasters. On this site you'll find all the info for radio stations and shows, reading 'word for today' and 'word for you today' and more.

Have a lovely Easter.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Weekly organise

Me on a mission

Hello everyone, I hope you are well. Thank you for your comments last time, it seems you were all very wise and 'I was not.' I think I was over ambitious, especially as I suffered a few bad days with diet issues. Like this, I'm too tired for organising anything at home. So still with the same thought of not waiting for the perfect time, I'm jumping in and starting now!

Following The Flylady Routines, Zones and Babysteps on a stop / start routine, here is:-  

My Plan for the Week 

Breakfast - Cornflakes or toast and marmalade - homemade bread.

Menu for the week

Monday - Left over roast gammon and chips

Tuesday - Tuna pasta bake

Wednesday - Chops and mash

Thursday - Pasties  

Friday - Creamy masala chicken and rice - teen 1 offered to make it (his choice for Catering exam at school a few yrs ago)

Saturday - Roast turkey or chicken 

Sunday - Leftover roast with chips

Morning routine -
*up early, dressed to shoes. 

*Swish & Swipe one washroom 

Afternoon routine

*Exercises - 3 x daily stair rises to heal tendon.
*1 x 15 min de-cluttering in the zone - lounge.
*1 x 15 min cleaning job.

Before bed routine
*clean sink, load launch pad and put clothes out ready for morning
*Massage - tendon
*Early night

The cleaning plan 

Monday - shopping

Tuesday - hoovering 

Wednesday - wash floors 

Thursday - dusting

Friday - Weekly home blessing 10 mins each - 
                      hoover, dusting, floors wash, bathrooms, wipe kitchen, beds

Saturday - 

Sunday - 

Fun bits -

Craft Circle (essentially a knit n natter)
Knit and Natter 

Film night
Good Friday - the teens holiday begins

I'm reading - The Dream Catcher by Maria Barrett

I'm listening to
 - Milly Johnson - Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe.
(I've listened to Milly Johnson - The Pudding Club, which I recommend. It was entertaining with lol moments. The language is fruity but normal for Milly's books).

What's on the hooks or needles - Crocheting a washcloth. Crochet a square for Weekend Stitches

I'm in the mood for - Chocolate cake & Prosecco - teen 1 passed his driving test on Monday! 

Links   Dressed to shoes (this week - the living room)  Friday FAQ

Thank you for reading about my crazy 'weekly organise' plans. I'm hoping this will be more realistic, but we'll see. 
Please leave a comment and let me know -

What are your plans for the week - boring or fun bits?
What made you happy last week?
What are you looking forward to this week?

Have a good week whatever you do.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Weekend Stitches - Double Crochet (UK) - Front / Back Loop (alternate rows)

Block 2 complete, each section is 10 rows

Hello, welcome to 'Weekend Stitches', I hope you are well. This next square has been blocked and like the first square, measures 20 cm sq. To recap, I made a chain of 36 + 2 stitches.  I then crocheted 10 rows of treble crochet (tr, US - dc) followed by 10 rows of half treble crochet (htr, US - hdc).

NB I'm using UK terminology. 
Conversion chart here

All the detailed information of the yarn including colours and hook size, conversion chart and close up photos of 'where to put your hook' can be found here

Double Crochet (dc) alternate rows of front loop / back loop (US - sc) 

Insert hook through back or front loop only (1 row of each),
yarn over hook, 
grab yarn (turn your hook down to hold fast the yarn) pull through loop - (2 loops on the hook).
Yarn over hook, pull yarn through both loops - (1 loop on your hook).

This section in cheviot (grey) dc.

With 36 stitches from previous row, I crocheted 10 rows as follows:-

Row 1
- Join on new colour and ch 1, ignore the stitch at the base of the hook and insert hook into the 
back part only of the next stitch, 1 dc. 
cont dc in back part only of each (V) stitch to the end of the row, turn.

Row 2 - ch 1, 1 dc in front part only of the next stitch.

cont dc in front part only of each (V) stitch to the end of the row, turn.

Cont row 1 and 2 until desired length, fasten off.

Sew in all ends.

Square 2 alongside square 1

My thoughts on this stitch

It was easy enough to do, one row in the back half and one row in the front half of the V stitch. You just need to remember which row you've previously done until you recognise the stitch. Especially if you put the work to one side for a while. For the same number of rows in tr or htr, your project will be dense but grow slowly.
This stitch creates dense rows of soft ridges and crocheting rows in different colours would emphasize this. It would suit projects such as washcloths, bags or cushions. 

Colours used so far

First square part 1 & part 2
Second square part 1

I hope you've enjoyed 'Weekend Stitches' so far. I've certainly enjoyed putting it together and comparing stitches within a swatch sample. I'm not sure which stitch I'll be crocheting next time. I've purchased 2 new colours since these colours (above).
I'm still wanting to keep a 'Coastal theme - Lincolnshire style' with the sand dunes, marsh grass and seals.

Perhaps I'll start next time with the 2 new colours -
Winter White - shade 139
Teal - shade 131

Until next time, thank you for stopping by.

Do you have a favourite stitch that you like to use - crochet or knitting?

Have you made a craft item to reflect an area of interest to you eg:- in crochet, knitting, sewing? Such as in knitting - Mind the Gap socks, In searching google for these, I came across Christina's blog and have enjoyed reading her take on them.

If you have any questions, do leave a comment.

Thank you for visiting, do let me know if you've tried this stitch.

Monday, 19 March 2018

March - Must get organised!

Hello everyone, hope you are well. It's halfway through March and about time I got organised. I'm not going to wait for the perfect time. I'm jumping in and starting now! It doesn't help that I'm still trying to sort out diet issues. I won't go into details suffice to say, when it's not a good day, I'm too tired for organising anything.

Following The Flylady Routines, Zones and Babysteps on a stop / start routine of sorts, here is:-  

My Week

Breakfast - Cereal, at the moment gluten free cornflakes or toast and marmalade with M - homemade bread.

Weekly menu 

Monday - Left over roast beef, yorkshires and chips

Tuesday - Chicken chasseur and rice

Wednesday - Stew and Dumplings

Thursday - Chops and mash 

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Roast Gammon joint 

Sunday - Leftover roast with chips

To do list -

Morning routine - up early and dressed to shoes.
Before bed routine - shine sink, load launch pad and put clothes out ready for morning
Early night

Focus on
The master bedroom, wardrobe, shower room ------ decluttering 15 mins daily in this area.

Book hair cut

Exercises - 2 x daily stair rises (for tendon) - One day I'll dance again!

Repair a dog! (a knitted one) for a friend's child

Block finished square

The cleaning -

Monday - shopping

Tuesday - hoovering & wash floors

Wednesday - dusting  

Thursday - bathrooms

Friday - Weekly home blessing 10 mins each - 
                      hoover, dusting, floors wash, bathrooms, wipe kitchen, beds 

Saturday - clean cooker, fridge

Sunday - Ironing

Fun bits -

Knit and Natter
Film night

I'm reading - The Dream Catcher by Maria Barrett

I'm listening to - Summer at the Lake by Erica James

What's on the hooks or needles - Crochet square for 'Weekend Stitches' and a washcloth.

I'm in the mood for cooking - Chocolate cake & Flapjack

Fly Lady Ref     Dressed to shoes (this week)  Friday

Thank you for reading about my crazy 'must get organised' plans.
Please leave a comment and let me know -

Are you organised?
Would you like to be better organised?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Weekend Stitches - Treble, Half Treble (UK)

tr, htr

Hello and welcome to 'Weekend Stitches', I hope that you are well.
This square, will measure 20cm sq when finished. The previous square that I crocheted used a variety of the same stitch dc. This time the crochet stitches I'm using will add height. They are tr in cheviot - grey and htr in saxe - light blue. These stitches are wider and less dense than the dc, so I've reduced the number of chain stitches to keep the width the same.  

All the detailed information of the yarn including colours and hook size, conversion chart and close ups on 'where to put your hook' can be found here. NB I'm using UK terminology. Conversion chart here.

A word about chains 

Turning chains - at the beginning of each row

1 chains for dc (sc)
2 chains for htr (hdc)
3 chains for tr (dc)
4 chains  for dtr (trc)
5 chains for trtr  (dtr)

Starting chains

In a starting chain this number may be different. A pattern will instruct you how many extra chains to add to a row of chains.
It can be a bit tricky to push the hook through the first row of chains, there are 3 strands of yarn in each ch st.
Pushing your hook through 2 strands on your hook will give a firm edge.
Pushing your hook through one strand will give a looser edge.
A consistent method will produce a neat edge to your project whichever method you choose.

The 10 rows of trebles are much higher than the 10 rows of double crochet in the previous square.

Treble Stitch (tr) {US dc}

Yarn over hook, insert hook through V stitch, yarn over hook. 
Turn hook downwards, catch yarn and pull through the V stitch - (3 loops on the hook).
Yarn over hook, pull yarn through 2 loops on the hook - (2 loops on the hook).
Yarn over hook, pull through both loops on the hook - (1 loop on the hook).

To begin this square, chain 36 + 2 with cheviot (grey) dk yarn.
Row 1 - tr in the 4th chain from the hook - through both parts of the V
              tr in each ch to the end of the row, turn

Row 2 - ch 3, ignore the stitch at the base of the chain, tr in the    next st
Regardless of how many chains made with the hook, ignore the stitch at the base of the hook and insert hook in the next stitch. 

tr to the end.

tr 10 rows, fasten off.

My thoughts on the treble stitch -  The stitch process is longer than the dc but it's an easy stitch to do. The stitch height enables the length of crochet work to grow fast. The tr is common in blankets and granny squares. Being less dense than the double crochet, consideration is needed on the width so you may need less chain stitches to start.

Half Treble (htr) {US hdc}

Yarn over hook, insert hook through V stitch, yarn over hook.
Turn hook downwards, catch yarn and pull through the V stitch - (3 loops on the hook).
Yarn over hook, pull through all 3 loops on the hook - (1 loop on the hook).

This section in saxe (light blue) htr.

Row 1 - Join on new colour and chain 2, ignore the stitch at the base of the hook and insert hook into the next stitch.
htr in each stitch to the end of the row, turn

Row 2 - ch 2, htr to the end.
htr for 10 rows, fasten off.

My thoughts on the half treble stitch - The stitch is between the height of dc and tr, the process is quick and simple. It produces neat rows of dense stitches making it suitable for washcloths or dishcloths that are stretched and squeezed.

Next time, I'll show the complete blocked square and my thoughts on the double crochet -
 front / back loop (alternate rows). Photos to follow of this part. 

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.
Thank you for visiting, do let me know if you've tried these stitches.


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