Monday, 10 September 2018

Pink & Lemon


Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. As I sit and write this I'm full of germs, just a cold but phew it's so annoying. I've not crocheted all weekend and still don't feel like it today. Hopefully tomorrow I'll pick it up again. M bought these pretty pink Asters for me last week, I've enjoyed their bright colour particularly at meal times.


More pink in the kitchen with a new orchid, this is the third one I have now. I wouldn't say I've a lot of success with houseplants, though Christmas cactus usually survive. Spider plants seem to thrive in a steamy shower room. I'd read somewhere about placing a spider plant in a bathroom to absorb moisture. I'm not convinced one plant alone is sufficient but one will have to do.

I won this in the WI raffle prize last week. Whenever I've won a prize, I've always felt a sense of urgency to make up my mind quick! It was my turn on refreshments this month so on hearing my number, I escaped the washing up briefly, to choose a prize. My poor tendon is suffering lots after the entertainment of Country Dancing. Yes it was enjoyable but too much walking about and it's swollen to bird egg size now. I need to step up the stretching exercises again, gently and slowly first and hopefully it will heal again. Surgery isn't really an option as the success rate is very low, also it's extremely gruesome.

Feeling yuk, I've sat reading my library book details here complete with it's shiny jacket. Cottage by the Sea is Debbie Macomber's latest book and starts off with a very sad disaster. The story follows a predictable pattern of the couple getting together, then retreating to lick their wounds before ending happily ever after. There are highs and lows but surprisingly no knitting in this story. Often Macomber's books feature a character knitting, or some cooking.

Being an American author, I love how she describes relationships and spending time with people generally. I hope you understand what I mean, I think it's the intimate expression of thoughts (not particularly romantic) that reveal their feelings. I never read English stories that have the same 'friendly' terminology, it's as if all feelings must be contained. 

At the moment I'm re-reading this book details here. Again a predictable pattern but enjoyable nevertheless. An extremely unlikely couple get together despite opposition from a controlling Mother. Lighthearted and easy to read which is good at the moment, though having read this before I'm remembering some of the arguments and weak storyline.  


This book details here The Lemon Tree Cafe is one I'm listening to on audio books. I hadn't realised it was actually 4 books in one - I wondered why the story was going on and on and on. The individual book titles are here if you want to read them separately. In many ways it has the fun element of a Jill Mansell with the 'hidden secret' element of a Milly Johnson. Bramley mentions the WI quite a few times albeit very loosely. I would definitely read or listen to more of her books. 

With all the talk of lemons, I felt like baking some lemon shortbread. This particular recipe is gluten free, it's very simple to make and can be made as an all in one method. I put all the ingredients into a food processor and when it starts to clump together, press it into a lined tin and bake. Unfortunately it's all gone now, so tomorrow I need to make some more.

The Lemon Shortbread recipe is in this free book. The address and postal details can be found on the flour packet. I couldn't find details about the book on-line but the address is in their contact details. Originally I think they'd requested a self addressed A5 envelope - uk.

I realise there are no photos of QT today, sorry. He's enjoyed writing my blog sometimes, with many of you asking to see him. At 17 years old he's slept an awful lot lately and been very fussy with his food. He's very fluffy and spreads a lot of fur all over the house, carpets and blankets everywhere.

I'm often mystified as to why cats groom themselves so much, especially 'himself' as he swallows clumps of fur, often daily. I try to groom him most days, which may sound excessive but it's the ingested fur that puts him off eating. He's much improved with frequent grooming and occasional doses of Katalax type meds. The thyroid meds - we now give orally through a syringe, in the past we've squirted it into his food. With his recent fussiness over meals we can't rely on this method benefitting him anymore.

Do you ever feel inspired to take up a new interest or bake something after reading a book? Maybe it's just me...
I tried sock knitting after reading A Good Yarn - Debbie Macomber, tried Dubonet after watching Hetty Wainthropp Investigates on TV. I can't say I enjoyed that drink, it was an acquired taste that I won't be trying again. There's probably been more things I've tried but these are the most memorable.

Thank you for stopping by, as always I love to read your comments. I'm still catching up with blog reading and hope to take some more photos of QT for next time.


Sunday, 26 August 2018

Hello from QT

Hello from QT

Well hello there, I didn't think Biscuit lady was going to write a blog this week so whilst she fell asleep watching the Grand Prix today, I thought I'd put paw to keyboard. She's taken a few strange photos and loaded them on the computer, one of which is a photo of my furry paws! How rude! Still, I coughed up a fur ball on her bed this morning so that'll teach her.

I'd been missing teen 2 this week with his Guitar Hero 'noise'. He went away for a whole week to Lancashire with the church youth group. I heard he turned into a frog, seriously humans are so strange! I'm going to have to watch him and see if he changes again, I've heard frogs are very tasty, yum yum.

I love sleeping in his room, the sun streams in and warms my fur purr-fectly. The best bit is biscuit lady leaves us in peace, something about the heavy rock noise. Occasionally she brings laundry to the cupboard and wakes me up, erh excuse me, I'm trying to sleep!

Teen 2 as Kermit - throwing a Dab! at the hero's dressing up evening

My furry toes

I'll leave you to see what Biscuit Lady's been up to this week, she looks like she's waking up now. I need to keep an eye on my birds. My people filled up the bird feeders yesterday and it brings out young families for my 'cat tv'. I'm wanting to find the soot covered one that's been down our flue 18 times now! The Land Rover lover is sure it's the same bird.

They've got 'bird freeing' down to a rotten fine art that goes like this - I'm banned from the lounge, the curtains are shut making the room dark. The patio doors are flung wide open, then the inspection hatch is open and whoosh, the bird flies away. After some noise, depending on who is carrying out the operation, I'm then allowed back in. Really, it's so undignified. I'm in charge of this house and it's an outrage, I shouldn't have to 'leave the room'.

I'm not sure what QT's been upto with my keyboard but I've just got time to write this before getting his dinner. The Grand Prix has finished, apparently Vettel won. I knew that.

Sorting & FinishingThese are the leftover colours from the Attic 24 - Moorland blanket I made. I showed you the crocheted triangles last week. Here are the triangles joined in a row to make some bunting for celebrating family birthdays etc. The joining band at the top, mirrors the colours of the blanket edging. My inspiration for this came from Nicki French crochet book.

My bunting in the Moorland pack colours

Colour on a rainy day

Enjoying looking at
Some pretty candles that look too delicate to use. M bought these with the wooden cat candle holder for me, back in July. I'm not sure I'll ever use them but I enjoy looking at their intricate beauty.

Another blanket of Lucy's at attic 24 this time it's her Woodland blanket, it'll be a gift for my MIL so I need to get cracking.  The pattern has treble stitches, some missed stitches and some with 2 trebles in one stitch. This is followed by a row of double crochet (UK terms). The plan is to crochet 3 colours a day, if I want to finish it soon.


Conclave by Robert Harris is the September book choice, I think I've given up with the August book which is 'The Loving Husband' by Christobel Kent. I'm hoping if I have time I may come back to it after this one.


By the fire, the first fire of the season. Despite the bird/s whizzing down the flue sending a cloud of soot in their wake, we'll still need to have the chimney swept. When M opened up the inspection plate soot had dropped down onto the metal plate inside.

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog, QT has appeared again asking for his dinner. Thank you for all your kind words left on my blog last time. I'm still catching up on blog reading and it's been nice to get in touch again.

From QT and me (Cathy) bye for now!

Saturday, 18 August 2018


How time has flown, sorry I've not been about in blogland very much lately. Thank you for taking the time to stop by at Hooks and Needles, I'm pleased you're still here. I've enjoyed reading your blogs whilst trying to keep up, though I've not always left a comment. 

People come and go in blogland and for myself it would be so easy to say I've been too busy. That isn't totally the case, I think I just lost my blogging mojo. I seem to spend ages choosing photos, cropping pictures, editing texts - repeatedly. Then it's looking for references on-line and generally faffing about before posting.

The Homemade Heart blog that hosted - The Cookery Calendar challenge and FAST - Homestead blog that hosted Five on Fridays, have both stopped for now. I enjoyed reading these but... life goes on and other interesting blogs pop up. There has been an increase in very suspect followers with the same address details through Bloglovin' which makes for more checking of personal info before posting. 


Much has changed since I last sat down at the keyboard. I may have mentioned before that teen 1 has now turned 18 years old. He's finished college and is finding his way in the world of employment. Temporary work, interviews and hoping for positive news, life can be stressful but good too. His birthday cake (Easter time) was gooey chocolate and delicious with obligatory Easter eggs.

My homemade laminated cake band (covering imperfections) reflected Guvna B's opening line to one of his songs - 'Fear is a Lie' with 'Allo Mate'. We'd seen him as a supporting artist at the Rend Collective concert in Huddersfield. Teen 1 saw NF live in Birmingham shortly after his birthday with his school / college friend.

Some flowers from springtime, left ready to post in drafts.

April also saw the launch of the local Knit & Natter group which has been great. It's nice to catch up with like minded ladies in the village and chat over our projects. Usually everyone brings their own things to work on, though twice there's been a specific project to all 'have a go at'. One of these was knitting socks another was some quilting. 


QT at the salad bar, crazy cat! Eat it, roll in it and gently dozing on it. Strange lad.

What do you mean it's your chair

It can't be, I'm here - it's mine!

As the sun warmed up, I'd moved the fireside chair into the lounge so I could crochet in the warmth with my feet up. QT however had other ideas.


Using the leftover yarn stash from the Attic 24 Moorland blanket that I'd crocheted last year, I made some bunting to match. I like to put bunting up when we have a birthday in the family. I was too late for my own birthday which was a shame but... it was a significant birthday and though at the time I felt miffed at being 50, I honestly don't feel any different, though I still think 38 years sounds a lot better.  


The bunting, now complete is still up at the moment as we had our open home this Saturday. We invited people from church to drop in for cake and a cuppa. There's something very enjoyable about throwing open the doors and windows, putting the kettle on, plate-ing up cake and getting out the lego for little people. We did a few last year as well, though we may just do the one next year or possibly one a month from May - August.

I can't remember everything thing I've read, listened to, made, baked and seen so I'll just mention a few:- 

Two weekends ago we went to stay with my Mother-in-law, whilst there we saw my parents in their new home too. They've recently moved back to Hampshire near my Nan and Brother & his daughter. It's strange with them all moved south, suddenly it feels almost alone without family nearby.

I've been reading books for the book club, the group recently decided to cap numbers which will help with seating arrangements and book choosing. My book for this year was How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. Apart from being featured on the Richard and Judy book list it was also on the Radio 2 book club. We had a very good discussion about the book which is always encouraging when you've chosen a book.

I've purchased material to sew some nightdresses. If you're new to dressmaking do checkout this youtube video of JessalliHandmade. At the moment the fabric is awaiting ironing and then pattern prepping. Honestly, I'm just putting off the tracing of the pattern etc! Is this even essential! I will try and get a move on with these.

I've started crocheting another blanket which I hope to take some photos of as it progresses.

The socks I'd knitted and put away for M Christmas present took an airing at the WI BBQ / Horticultural show. I was chuffed to bits as they won 2nd place in the sock knitting & crochet category. I've never entered before and will definitely enter again!

I'm going to post this now before I change my mind and start faffing about with it. I'll take some photos of the finished bunting and blanket progress for next time.

Thank you for reading and have a good weekend whatever you're doing.
Cathy x

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.

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