Friday, 28 April 2017

Five on Friday - My week

Five on Friday - It's been a funny week, full of variety. From granny squares to cakes with some flowers, films, and chocolate thrown in for good measure. I'm joining with the Five on Friday group again this week. Instead of a walk along the beach, I'm inviting you to have a look at the things I've seen and experienced this week.  

We (M) planted these yellow daisy like plants last year. Any flower that looks like this is an instant favourite with me. There's just something special about them. With their big larger than life long petals and bright cheerfulness they are a delight to find in a border. At the moment they are in full bloom and provide a welcome home each time you park on the drive.

Easter crispy cakes. These simple little cakes are made all year really but with a few eggs added are suddenly Easter cakes. Teen 2 made these, melting milk chocolate in a covered dish in the microwave. Stirring in enough crisped rice to evenly coat and then spooning them into cup cases to set in the fridge with a few eggs nestled in the top.

One night this week we went to our friends house and watched a film together with other families and a lovely dog called Misty. This is one we've seen many times now called God's Not Dead, the trailer is here, we've seen the second film in the series too. The films are projected onto a giant pull down screen with surround sound. With nibbles half time it's just like being at the cinema. I particularly love the music but the simple message of the story is brilliant. There are some deep thoughtful moments and some hard going emotional parts but overall it's a good family film with passionate beliefs. I'm a bit confused about the age though as the box says PG but Amazon say (12).   

The local WI wanted me to show them how to crochet, we decided on a simple granny square as that would be the easiest thing to start with. I prepared a slide show with pictures and instructions. They all bought along wool and a crochet hook and wine and Prosecco. With tea, coffee and crisps we were good to go. Whoever thought the WI was dull. There were some interesting shapes and we all agreed it was fun, but not easy to teach others to crochet. If you crochet or even knit, you may like to remember how and when you learnt. Was it from a book, another adult guiding you. Of course today there is google and youtube with a whole range of methods. It can still be confusing as each person has their own particular style, method and habits. Personally I learnt from a book and asking my Mum for help. 

For the tutorial of the granny square and for turning it into a heart afterwards there's a link here.

It's book club time and this is the book we've been reading. A long time ago I started coming up with the questions for the book and for this one I wasn't able to find any on-line from other book clubs. So it was time for me to check out some reviews and draw thoughts together and shape some questions ready for a discussion. Rather than tell you what the book is about, here are the questions we are discussing. 

1. What are your feelings about the book, eg the plot and were you moved or gripped with interest?

What did you think about the characters, Daisy so perfect, Kian a well loved guy and Jules – what were your feelings about her before and after Daisy's murder? 

3. What do you think about the book's structure eg the book is full of time jumps and reflections. Why might the author have chosen to tell the story the way she did? Was the many descriptions about the pub, extended family and Ruby necessary and how did they contribute to the telling of the story?

4. What did you feel when you'd finished reading? Do you think it 'a weak payoff when the concluding action happens off-screen' as one review says. Or was this book never about crime solving but a story of enduring love and commitment?

5. How do you feel about the issue of 'being nice' to girls in light of this book eg the international discussion about the socialization of girls to be “nice” even when they have warning bells going off in their heads.

. Have you read any of Susan Lewis other works and would you choose to read any in the future.

I'll leave you with an interesting critical review of the book here. See what you think, obviously it contains spoilers. If you're interested in more of Susan Lewis books see here.

Next months book is Mercy by Jodi Picoult. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Granny square tutorial - heart from a granny square

I've been having a go at making a granny square tutorial. Then I decided to see about turning a small square into a heart. I've put the heart on here too with trebles on the curves, but you could always swap the trebles for double trebles to make it more curvy. Sometimes searching for a pattern can take a long time, especially if you want it constructed in a particular way.
This weekend it's been fun - 
sort of, M and teen 2 had a try at the first and second round of a granny square. I needed someone who couldn't already crochet to follow 'my' instructions as I'd written them.
If you're brave enough to have a go, leave a comment and let me know how you got on.
Happy crocheting.
  Granny into a heart

Starting Crochet - A slip knot

Holding short edge (3'' length) in front, between thumb and first 2 fingers on your left hand, wrap long length over to form a cross – long length behind.
Pull long length through the circle to make a small loop.
Place loop on your hook with the long length of yarn towards you. 
Tighten loop gently, ready to start.

Granny Square Beginnings

Fig 1 Chain 5 with ss,  Fig 2 Chain 3,  Fig 3 2tr,  Fig 4  Finished first round.

Granny Square starting instructions
Slip knot
Chain 5
Join with slip stitch to make a circle

Round 1 3ch, (counts as 1 tr) 2tr into the circle *1ch, 3tr, rep from * three times. 1ch, ss in top of starting chain to join the square.

Second round of the granny square

 Round 2 3ch, 2tr into the corner, 1 ch 
*3tr, into the next chain space, 2ch, 3tr, into the same corner space, 1ch 
rep from, * twice.
3tr into the last corner, 2 ch
ss to join square

Third round of granny square

 Round 3 3ch, 2tr into the corner space 
*1ch, 3tr, into the next chain space, 1ch. 3tr, 2 ch, 3tr into the corner space. 
Rep from * 2 times
1ch, 3tr, 1ch, 3tr, 2ch
ss to join square.

Further rounds
Continue adding more rounds

Corners – 3tr, 2ch, 3tr
Sides ch1, 3tr, ch1
To change colour – simply cut length of finishing colour, wrap yarn over hook toward you, pull through. 

Take new colour and push hook through space where you finished and wrap yarn over hook and pull yarn through (long length towards you). Tie once to secure.

Darning in ends

Thread darning needle and sew under 4 stitches in one direction and then (back again) sew under a further 4 stitches alongside. 
Snip thread
Repeat both steps with all loose ends. 

If you can when you begin each new yarn choice, hold the short end and crochet over the short end of the yarn and snip end. Then no need to sew in this end.

Turn your granny square into a heart

Make 2 rounds of granny square 
ch1 at the corner, 11tr in the next ch space
ss1 in the next ch space
11tr in the next ch space
(2dc into ch space, 1dc into top of each tr st), rep
2dc, 2ch, 2dc (into chain space - bottom point)
3dc, 2dc into space, 3dc
2dc, ss to join in top of first stitch.
Darn in ends to secure.

Stitches & More

Slip knot
Chain stitch
Treble stitch
Slip stitch
3tr = a cluster


ss - slip stitch
ch - chain 
rep – repeat
dc – double crochet
tr  - treble stitch
dtr - double treble
htr – half treble

Treble Stitch
Wrap yarn round hook toward you
Insert hook into the circle
Wrap yarn round hook toward you and pull yarn through the circle (3 loops on hook)
Wrap yarn round hook toward you and pull yarn through 2 loops on hook (2 loops on hook) 
Rep last step leaving 1 loop on hook this time

Double crochet
To dc – with loop on hook 
Insert hook through st or space
Wrap yarn over the hook toward you
Pull yarn through first loop only– 2 loops on hook
Wrap yarn over the hook toward you
Pull yarn through both loops

This completes the dc

Friday, 21 April 2017

Five on Friday - A family walk.

Today I'm joining with 'Five on Friday', I've put together 5 photos of a family walk to the beach on Bank holiday Monday. Grab a cuppa and imagine you're there too, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the wind is calm and with sand at your feet you've not a care in the world.

On Bank holiday Monday this week my family headed for a walk at a beach in Lincolnshire. It was a lovely sunny day but a bit chilly. We love to visit this beach a lot. It's a bit of an all seasons kind of beach, free of the nearby RAF bombing range with test flights and strange noises in machine fire. M (hubby) is heading through the grassy dunes at the top of the car park onto the wide expanse of sand

and more sand, and more... If you look straight ahead and keep walking, you'll eventually find the sea, about a mile away. This is not the place for a quick dip in the sea, even if you did stride into the sunset you'd only manage a shallow paddle. Instead it's great for kite flying on a windy day, ball games and sand castles. In the winter if you are well wrapped up, it's a great walk to blow away the cobwebs and maybe collect some salt smelling drift wood. There never seems to be many people here. Without the lure of food, amusements and accessible water it tends to be as peaceful as it's name 'The Haven'.

Soon all this sand will be covered in a blanket of Samphire, a salty delicacy historically used to garnish fish dishes and called 'Poor Man's Asparagus'. You'll then find it readily available in local greengrocers.

We stopped to gaze into a rock pool and were rewarded by spotting a small dis-guarded crab shell against the rock. I remembered at this point that the seaside book we'd bought a while ago to identify 'things' we'd found at the beach, was sitting at home on the bookshelf. The teens lag behind on our walk chatting happily about something electronic I guess, XBOX, tablet or phone probably.

A family group shot before we head for home, even though teen 1 is wearing the wrong shoes, oops! It's great that they are still willing to come out with us especially since teen 1 has started his driving lessons with M. Some have questioned whether he and M will get along together with driving practice, given that they are Father and Son. As a driving instructor, M is strictly professional and being a previous seniors school teacher, it's all in a days work.

Leaving the car park it's a bone shaker ride, even though we used the 4WD setting on the car. It's a green lane so not high on anyone official's repair list. The pot holes jostle for space and we are thrown about to the delight of everyone but me. On the other side of this track is the mooring for fishing boats, it's very muddy on that side!

The colours of the marsh grass, sand dunes and sea influenced my 'Layered crochet coastal granny square cushion' here for photos.

Thank you for reading about my family walk. I'm joining Fast 'Five on Friday' for today's post, so no craft or flowers today apart the ones on the badge below.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Holiday

Happy Easter to you all, I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather this weekend. On Thursday last week, we set off on our travels to sunny Hampshire, in the past when we've visited family at this time of year it's been during a heat wave. Many years ago on a previous visit we arrived only to rush out and buy some shorts and t-shirts for the boys. This year the weather was pleasant and sunny with cool moments.

We set off after breakfast and for most of the journey both ways I got stuck into my crochet blanket. The journey itself wasn't too bad, thankfully the hold ups were going the other way. The teens wanted feeding halfway at Peterborough having finished their snacks and pizza they'd packed for the journey and we wanted a cuppa at least. Then we were off again.

It was a lovely visit to see my Mother-in-Law and her dog Douglas a gorgeous golden retriever. I miss my cat QT when we're away so it's always nice to see pets. We chatted and left presents for family and I continued with my crochet blanket. I think crochet must be catching as I have left behind the links to the blanket and some youtube tutorials.
We all took a stroll round the garden looking at plants and trees whilst taking photographs. I won't put them all on today, just a few I thought you'd like to see. 

These two photographs are of a Wedding Cake tree with two tiers growing at the moment. I'm not sure how large it will grow eventually but it looks big if it's anything like the photo link - information here. This particular part of the garden used to have a large raspberry cage on it that was enclosed in a net. I have fond memories of collecting raspberries from here, it was lovely having fresh raspberries for pudding over the years.

It was good to see the Catkins out in the garden, definitely a very seasonal stroll round the garden. M whizzed round part of the garden with the electric mower letting the teens have a go too. Ermintrude, the automated lawn mower was off being fixed on her holidays of sorts. A few more jobs were ticked off the 'to do' list and lovely meals were enjoyed including this one by Jamie Oliver - Sticky Chicken recipe. Another recipe that cooks everything all in the same pan, it was delicious.

Home again after stopping for fish and chips, we were welcomed by QT. He was pleased to see us back again and instantly wanted his dinner. It was good to be home and feeling a bit cooler in the house after nobody being there, we lit the fire, grabbed a cuppa and sat comfortably to watch Doctor Who. Wonderful. Just need to catch up on all the washing now.
Sunday we cooked two lots of cheese and onion pasties and mince pie slices which I made as long lengths and then cut them into inch thick slices. We took these to a friends house for a shared lunch and Easter egg hunt. It was a great afternoon chatting with friends, even though the weather was a bit damp.

Today, Bank Holiday Monday we went out to the beach for a family walk with the teens. It's nice that they are still happy to come out with us. I'll show some photographs next time I stop by. I'm off to crochet by the fire whilst watching the snooker with a roast chicken in the oven.

Hope you're well and enjoying the Easter break. Do leave a comment.
C x

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

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Good morning, Just wanted to let you know I'm on Bloglovin' now.


A slice of cake.

Such lovely warm weather we had at the weekend, particularly on Sunday. I collected the garden chairs and cushions and took my crochet outside to sit in the warm breeze, it felt quite tropical. I was going to say grab a cuppa and slice of cake but I'm on the wine, cheers! Teen 1 wanted to cook his specialty tonight a very tasty Creamy Chicken Masala, which is just perfect with a glass of wine. 

Welcome to my blog if you've recently stopped by.

The last photographs of the Amaryllis, there is one more bud at the back that is yet to burst open and show it's loveliness. I've enjoyed the amazing growth, it's been a quick journey. The flowers themselves feel quite robust with thick petals. I'm thinking of buying another one later in the year just to be sure we can enjoy it all over again. Though it would seem the family may see this one bloom again. For what to do after flowering see here.

M and teen 2 have worked their green fingered magic with the hanging baskets at the weekend. The lighter basket with the white cyclamen - originally inside in the cat on a bike planter, was a gift from the primary school many years before. The other two baskets are probably on their last legs as the quality isn't as good. Still the displays are good and that's all that matters for this year. This poor basket is waiting for a new bracket to hang it on the wall.  

Today having dropped teen 1 in town to see his girlfriend, still buzzing after his first driving lesson with M last night, I quickly raced round the shops and then took teen 2 to another town for a sleepover and homework session with his mate. They're doing biology apparently, umm maybe, or probably lots of XBOX. So after running round as taxi using the Sat Nav, I'm never comfortable going to new places where I haven't a clue where I am, I went home leaving M to pick up teen 1 along with the guy who has just bought our car off us. We weren't able to do part exchange as our present car, though at a garage was a private sale. I think he got a bargain as we replaced both the car and key fob batteries and threw in the car mats and roof rack.  

Having what's left of the afternoon to myself I set about some baking time. I made a cuppa, turned up the radio and made an All-in-one sponge cake Delia Smith style, though my filling was raspberry jam and whipped double cream. I love all-in-one cakes, so easy. 

The guy buying the car was in luck and enjoyed a slice too! I felt a bit bad as when he arrived the kitchen was full of cake smells, delicious. 

On a roll now it was straight off to the next cake, another Delia Smith recipe. Banana and walnut loaf, but mine has chocolate chips instead of nuts. It still tastes divine sliced and spread with butter. This recipe has the grated rind of both lemon and orange which makes it taste out of this world. Looks a bit yucky with four mashed up bananas so if you make this cake don't let that put you off.

Voila! I was a bit disappointed that my glamorous assistant wasn't home to de-bomb the kitchen afterwards, I don't know what happened, when I got started it was lovely reasonably tidy in there.

There's not been a lot of crafting this week apart from some crochet in the sunshine.
Jobs for the week- it's going to have to be housework before craft.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog, if you've been inspired by anything please comment below, it's been lovely reading comments from new people recently. If you'd like to show what you've been making please do on my face book page. Just comment below a recent blog post, I love to see what you're working on.

All the best, have a good week.
If you like my blog please click on follow to stay in touch, thank you. Cx

Note about the cake ingredients- both these cakes were made using this book. The fat the book used was soft margarine or very soft butter.   

Friday, 7 April 2017

Crochet withdrawal symptoms.

Hello and thank you for stopping by to read my blog. Just grabbed my cuppa and a triple chocolate chip cookie (from Aldi), mmm, divine! Should've made some really, anyway...
Aren't these tulips just beautiful, I thought you'd like to take a look inside, from this angle your gaze is drawn deep down into the centre. I love two toned coloured flowers, I don't know quite what it is, but there's just something really special about them.

These ones remind me of the sweets, Rhubarb and custard. 

These pink Senecio were bought from Tesco this week. M has planted them out in the garden underneath the bird feeding table, he and teen 2 are the green-fingered people in our family. I think we're planting up the hanging baskets at the weekend too, that's not a job I enjoy at all but it does look lovely when it's finished. I had an unexpected day off in the week and had called in to Tesco to buy a few things such as birthday presents, totally forgetting that I'd already bought a present for one of the people, oops! It was chosen specially too grrh! Oh well I'll make use of the present for someone else now, so no problem.

Teen 1 is getting so excited about his upcoming birthday next week, if he's told me once, he's told me a thousand times. He'll be 17 years old, how did that happen, one minute you're reading them stories, the next they're giving you route directions because you've I've got lost- again! Anyway he'll have his first driving lesson with M on Monday, yikes! 

On Thursday my friend Wendy stopped by with some crochet magazines for me (thank you Wendy). On a quick flick through I was overjoyed to see Lucy from attic 24 inside them writing a regular column. I've bought newer copies of this particular magazine and don't think she writes for any magazines now which is a real shame, especially as I've only just found her in some.

Ooh, well this looks exciting, the amaryllis is beginning to look a bit like a helicopter! I've put it in the kitchen at the moment so it has plenty of light from the two windows either side and the two velux windows above. Such a lovely rich red colour. Having bought these in the past as presents for people, it's fascinating to see it growing and bursting into bloom.   

Teen 1 washcloth is finished, yay! It will look better after a light pressing. Look here for a peek at the NF symbol. Teen 2 has decided he'd like a flannel designed for him, his tastes are more heavy metal with a more complicated symbol
Somehow I don't think this will happen for a very long time.

I'm itching to get back to my crochet having put it to one side to concentrate on finishing my knitting. It's been a while since I've finished something in the crochet department, the last thing was the coastal layered granny square cushion. One thing at a time, write it down and tick it off! So what next, first of all it's back to the Moorland blanket I'm crocheting and then to prepare some granny square samples for demonstrating purposes. Then I'm determined to crochet some bunting. I've bought some lovely wool recently so I will have to put some colours together and see what it looks like. These two crochet books both have bunting in so I'll choose one and go from there. 

I know this isn't a very good photo and may not be that exciting in the grand scheme of things, but this week we've had our new front door fitted. It is so much easier to open, close and lock, phew, how did we survive before. The builder is set to return on Monday to tidy the inside above the door, a light plaster and paint I think he said. Also he's going to paint outside - the top window sills and arch lintels too. The whole front of the house should look smart after that. Unfortunately the front door has been damaged so for now we're leaving it in his capable hands to sort it out. Such a shame but as it's from a major big company, at the moment we are hopeful of a good outcome.

QT was sitting watching the knitting yarn moving one afternoon this week and he looked like he was wanting to attack the end of the wool. Cats are so amusing, for an aged 16 year old he still has some very kittenish ways, particularly when I'm tying my shoe laces. Just look at his long whiskers, M always points this out when I say he needs a shave. I was sitting by the patio door with my feet up on the small ottoman in the lounge. The sun was streaming through the glass, just right for cats, knitting and a cuppa, bliss! 

Dinner tonight was Shepherd's pie, the main part was cooked yesterday so after work when I was trying to sort lunch, the builder, laundry etc I only need to prepare some mashed potato for the topping. Sometimes I can be organised with the cooking and the cook one, prep two method is helping.

Jobs this week, have a tidy up as we've had the front porch half emptied out for the builder to come in and make a mess. We can't put everything back just yet but it can all be tidied, hovered and floor washed at least. The other floors need washing anyway, otherwise it'd be a waste of time with the porch floor as the builder is back next week.

Outside jobs - plant the hanging baskets.

Get busy with my crocheting again!

Enjoy the weekend, until next time have fun with your craft projects or whatever you are doing. Do let me know what you're up to and follow to stay in touch, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Cooking, Cleaning and Cotton Yarn

Our Christmas triffid amaryllis is growing steadily and ready to pop!

Welcome to my first feed back of the cookery calendar challenge. I started this at the beginning of March and introduced it in this blog. It's been fun, first in choosing suitable recipes that we'd all like and second in food preparations generally. I've cooked two dinners that I've never tried before. My family are thankfully always keen to try new foods and are always very appreciative of great tasting and nicely presented food. The book I choose these 2 recipes from was Eat For Life by The Hairy Dieters based on the TV series. I think their first book in this series The Hairy Dieters was so successful that they wanted to produce another book full of new recipes.

Eat For Life is arranged conveniently with chapters for breakfast and brunch, fast food, family favourites and meals with mates. Then follow what they proudly offer as fab fakeaways, food from afar, meals on the move, snacks and salads, something sweet and along sides. The book finishes with a page on 'what you get for 100 calories'.

The recipe I chose to cook early on in March from Eat For Life was the All-In-One Spicy Pork and Rice from the Family Favourite's chapter- shown simmering in the pan. This particular chapter promises comfort food that's warm and satisfying. Although I'm not watching calories I do however enjoy eating healthy, tasty food that is relatively easy to prepare. I usually cook meals from scratch but am quite happy opening a jar of sauce for convenience. I do favour casseroles, bakes and stews, simply because once it's cooking there's time for other jobs. Recently I've been making more of an effort to cook one and do the preparation towards the following nights dinner.

This recipe is split into 3 main sections, first frying onions. Then fry the seasoned pork adding chorizo, garlic, peppers and beans, before adding spices, stock and bringing to the boil. Lastly reducing the heat and simmering for 20 minutes until tender. It's all cooked in a large covered saute pan on the hob.

I resisted adding mushrooms to this which I thought was quite remarkable for me as I add mushrooms to any meal I can get away with. I think I was just keen to see how it would turn out 'as is' stated in the recipe. The recipe calls for 150g rice which according to the recipe would be enough to feed 4 people, we usually eat 2-3 oz of rice per person or 1 1/2 cups between us. I felt for us we needed to cook this amount of rice or the teens would be hungry in no time. This is the only thing I altered in the recipe.

This is definitely a recipe that I would love to eat again, we all enjoyed it, absolutely delicious with lots of flavour and colour and as it can all be cooked in the same pan, it was a sure winner.

For the second recipe, this time from the Meals with Mates chapter, it's Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Sauce. Another absolutely tasty meal, a bit similar in flavour to good quality sausages. I was a bit unsure what to serve it with really as the recipe only suggests garnishing it with parsley. Er, no. We ate ours with mock roast potatoes (not previously par boiled) and green runner beans.

The recipe itself initially looks like it has lots of instructions but on closer inspection it's quite straight forward. After frying the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, adding thyme and removing from the heat, tip into a large mixing bowl.

Adding to the bowl the beef and pork mince, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, salt and pepper combine until well mixed. Placing everything in a prepared tin to cook in the oven you are then free to prepare the spicy tomato sauce. Teen 2 found this way too spicy but everyone else loved it.

The sauce was easy to put together with fried onion and garlic, tinned chopped tomatoes, chilli, oregano and ketchup. Simmer the sauce and keep it all warm, it can either be blitzed smooth or left chunky, depending on how you like it.

Like the previous recipe from this book, I'd certainly cook this again, we loved it. I suppose you could serve it with anything really, new potatoes, even chips or take on a picnic. I usually look for alternatives to potatoes as I'm not keen on them. I do however adore roast potatoes so that's what we had.

The next cookery book I've chosen from my collection for April is The Essential Jewish Festival Cookbook by Evelyn Rose. I'll be choosing 2 recipes from this book and stopping by early May to let you know how we got on.

Since my last blog I've carried on with teen 1 washcloth and some more blanket. I don't seem to have achieved much as I had so many other things requiring attention this past week. Today after I dropped teen 2 into school for RE revision (he didn't want to go) I whizzed round town shopping, payed a library fine, annoying as I didn't get round to reading it anyway and then popped into a few wool shops. I needed to buy another ball of grey cotton yarn as I will definitely run out before I finish this flannel.  

At the weekend I did some spring cleaning of a different kind, sorting through craft stuff in the ottoman in my room and throwing out old study materials. Why did I keep it all, boxes and boxes of stuff? The craft books and patterns are now in storage baskets or boxes on the shelf unit and all the wool, material and kits are neatly stored back in the ottoman. The room still needs a bit of a spring clean but it's better than it was. Mustn't allow the clutter back in future! 

QT taking a stroll in the garden managing to look mean, moody and magnificent.

Menu tonight- Chicken soup with homemade bread
Jobs for the week- get cracking with finishing teen 1 washcloth.
Thank you for reading my blog and if you've been inspired, please leave a comment and follow for updates.

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