Monday 30 December 2013


If you asked I'd probably say I'm not very materialistic. There's not much in life I feel I need or want. Designer names don't mean much to me and I'm just as happy with a good charity shop find as I am a luxury item.
I had a lovely selection of Christmas gifts ranging from garlands to ribbon, chocolates to wine and I was equally thrilled with all of them... getting a present is fun whatever it might be. But this year I received something very special, something I've thought I would like for quite some time...

This beautiful shiny red mixer from my eldest son Ben. I know that getting a kitchen appliance might not be everyone's idea of the ideal gift but I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled and taken aback I was. It came wrapped it a lovely big parcel that he'd carried up on the train from London... and I just LOVE it! And it's shiny... and red... and it made me feel like a child getting a brand new toy. And much as though I feel done with cooking for the time being, I had to put it to the test...

It made a very good clementine cake!

Did I say how much I love it? Did I mention that it is very shiny... and red! And for the cynics on Facebook who suggested there were ulterior motives... Ben doesn't even live with us. But you can be sure I'll bake him cake when he comes to visit! Thank you Ben... I really do love it!!!
Still time to leave a comment on this post. The draw for the giveaway will stay open until midnight tomorrow.

Saturday 28 December 2013


Well that's Christmas done and dusted for another year... and what a good one it has been. Fun times with family and friends, food, drink, laughter and games. I hope you've had good times too! The last of the family left this morning but the left overs carry on going...
Although I don't eat meat I do cook a turkey for everyone else and it is traditional that I bung absolutely everything that is left over under a puff pastry lid for a Boxing Day Pie. But this year I did something a little different... inspired by Paul Hollywood's Hand Raised Boxing Day Pie.

Separate layers of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in a hot water crust... not entirely left overs though as I had to make more stuffing and more cranberry sauce to make the pie as we had used both up at our Christmas lunch.

Obviously I can't testify to what it tastes like but it is disappearing fast!
Don't forget to leave a comment on my last post if you want a chance to win my 1000th post giveaway!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Advent :: Day Twenty four

Well here we are... Christmas Eve! I've done another twenty four days of blog posts in December and 1000 posts in total. Who would have thought it... not me! I've met so many lovely people through blogging - some of you in real life and some of you just virtually but each and every one of you have been a pleasure to get to know and have made blogging such fun... so I would like to say thank you. Thank you for sticking with me (some people have been around since that first post in July 2007), thank you to new followers and readers, thank you for leaving comments, thank you to those who quietly read!
And by way of a thank you I would like to make some thing for you. All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post between now and New Year's Eve and tell me would you prefer a notebook...
An apron...

A tea cosy or a cushion cover (cushion pad not included).

You then need to tell me what words or phrase you would like on your item (No more than about six words!) and leave the rest up to me. I will pick out one winner from all the comments and custom make their preferred item. Go on... what are you waiting for!

I'm now having a few days off during which time I hope to sort out my email - sorry I've been unable to reply to your comments. So I would like to wish everyone who reads this blog...
 A Very Happy Christmas.
May your days be merry and bright!

Monday 23 December 2013

Advent :: Day twenty three

When Gill and I went to the Selvedge Winter fair a few weeks ago one of my very few and modest purchases was this little fabric covered button from Ray-Stitch. My step daughter Kirsty has a little black cat called Ruby and although I didn't have the faintest idea what I would make I knew it would be the inspiration for her Christmas gift.
On Friday afternoon I allowed myself the luxury of a few hours stitching and this was the result.

Truth be told, I'm a bit reluctant to give this away and wondered why I don't ever make cushions for our sofa.

The back is a simple envelope closure... and a chance to use that special button. I don't do zips if I can help it!

Perhaps I should make one for us that says "No Reindeers on the Sofa"

As if the death of our many domestic appliances isn't enough I now cannot access my email account. I feel like running away and hibernating in a cave somewhere until April. But alas, there are still many things to do... including one last post here tomorrow, my 1000th post. See you back her for a special giveaway!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Advent :: Day twenty two

It started out like this...
and has ended up like this. Alchemy!

Mixed, baked, matured... (I lie it's only been a week)...

Marzipaned, iced and decorated... and all before Christmas Eve. Which is something of a record round here. I have been known to do the whole cake from start to finish on 24th December.

We might not have clean clothes but at least we have cake.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Advent :: Day twenty one

Things are not going according to plan.
My washing mashine has broken and there is no engineer available until 31st December... I'm not happy! I'd just stripped all the bed linen ready for the extra bodies sleeping here over the holidays... not to mention the towels that were used to soak up all the leaking water that are now sitting grubby and soggy in the sink.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised as we have a bit of a history of appliances breaking the week before Christmas. First there was the year without the dishwasher which was more of an irritation than anything else... and then the year the oven actually exploded in the middle of cooking Christmas lunch (fortunately after the turkey was cooked) when we ended up with pan fried potatoes... not to mention when the boiler broke and we were left with no heating until the second week in January (as well as no washing machine that year either). But as both our microwave and vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost last week I thought we were safe for the rest of this year. Pah... that'll teach me! If you need me I'll be down at the river bank scrubbing sheets on a stone.
Bah Humbug!

Friday 20 December 2013

Advent :: Day twenty

For me, the most favourite part of this time of year is the making and sharing of food, eating and enjoying it together. Providing a feast for family and friends is always a pleasure, especially if it involves baking. But sometimes after all the richness of chocolate, mince pies and gingerbread etc. I long for something light and refreshing... just like this warming fruit salad which I made for our book club party.
Blueberry and Orange Compote
125g golden granulated sugar
1 lime
approx 2-3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
Slug of orange liqueur (optional)
10 large oranges
450g blueberries
Place the sugar in a small pan with  enough water to cover it, bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add the juice of the lime and grate the ginger into the syrup. Add a generous glug of orange flavoured liqueur. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, and using a serrated knife, peel the oranges removing the white pith. Cut into slices, removing any pips. Place the oranges and blueberries in a bowl with the juice and pour the syrup over. Allow to stand for a few hours.
Perfect with a big chunk of gingerbread!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Advent :: Day nineteen

The brevity of yesterday's post was entirely the fault of Mary Berry.
Let me put you in the picture... one week to go until Christmas, present shopping still not finished, presents that have been bought still not wrapped, local cards still not written or delivered, food to be organised and 20 people turning up at my house in the evening for our book club Christmas gathering. So what to I do... spend my day making a gingerbread house.
I couldn't help myself... and I blame Mary Berry for my insanity.

But it was worth it!

And it did make a lovely centerpiece at out party last night, where everyone contributed to lots of wonderful food and drink and several silly games. A great evening.

Now if you'll excuse me there is the little matter of shopping to finish so I'm off to Cambridge.
Thank you to everyone who is taking the time to read and comment on these advent posts... you are keeping me going! And if I don't have time to reply to you all individually I'm sure you'll understand that I'm probably busy making gingerbread houses or something else equally silly... but I do appreciate your support!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Advent :: Day eighteen

My hall is decked...
Just saying...

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Advent :: Day seventeen

After my recent craft fairs I was delighted to have sold my entire stock of sock creatures...the eleven remaining monsters will be popping up in Christmas stockings next week!
I'm sure there will be more next year but for now I fancied trying something else so when Gill showed me a photograph of this sock reindeer kit, the gauntlet was thrown...

And Ronnie the Reindeer was born...

He looks disturbingly like someone I know... but I'm not telling...

Monday 16 December 2013

Advent :: Day Sixteen

Did you think I'd forgotten all about day sixteen? I've been busy all day!
This morning I had an overwhelming urge to tidy up and clean. I did consider having a lie down until the feeling passed but no... Feeling brave I donned my Marigolds and have swept and mopped and dusted all day long. And when everything was bright and shiny I decided I would put up the tree and decorate it.
And when it was done I felt a little bit sad because I realised not a single other person in my family really cares less whether we have a Christmas tree or not... and in fact not even one of them has even noticed that I've done it yet. So I'm sitting here on my laptop where I can see it it and enjoy it. And I'm thinking I might not bother next year and I'll see if anyone actually notices. (They'd soon notice if I made them beans on toast for Christmas dinner!)
I don't care... I like my tree!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Advent :: day fifteen

You might want to sit down... another mini tutorial... two days running... boy, am I good to you!
If you follow Planet Penny you will know that Penny is also doing a blog post each day in a Christmas countdown and on day four she featured buttons.  I was rather taken with the button garland being as I have recently acquired a large number of pearly buttons (hence those Christmas cards!) I figured out how to make my own (I confess, it wasn't exactly rocket science) 
So, to make your own button garland you will need a stash of pearly buttons... cut them off your husband's shirts if necessary... you can always let him sew them back on after Christmas, a suitable sparkly thread and a smallish crochet hook.

Thread all the buttons you wish to use onto your thread and start off by crocheting a length of chain.

Slide your first button up towards your hook and crochet the next chain as if the button wasn't there, which will hold the button in place.

Continue to crochet another section of chain - the number of chain you crochet will determine how spaced out your buttons will be along the garland - I made about 20 chain between each button. Then add your next button as before.

And carry on like this until you have used up all your buttons, finishing with a length of chain.

And of course, they don't have to be pearly and white...

As colourful works too!

And if you don't fancy a garland I can imagine they would make a fun necklace or bangle if the buttons were more closely spaced... off to give that a try right now!

Saturday 14 December 2013

Advent :: Day fourteen

I have found time to make a few of my own cards this year... but they were quick!
Nothing terribly sophisticated. A triangle of green paper and a small rectangle of patterned paper glued down onto a card. Add a star shaped sequin and a few pearly buttons and there you have it. PVA glue works for the buttons.

See, I told you there might be tutorials in amongst all these advent posts! Blink and you might have missed it.

And depending on your background card colour... you get totally different effects. And whilst we're talking different colours you could use multi-coloured buttons... or all red buttons... you get the idea!

It's all clever stuff round here you know!

Friday 13 December 2013

Advent :: Day thirteen

Another Christmas tea cosy finished today.
A request for a different text and a slight variation in design resulted in this version. It is never a chore to tweak a design because there is real pleasure in knowing something has been custom made just the way someone wants it. And in knowing that it has been a thoughtful gift for someone special.

Only one more tea cosy to make and then I might make a start on one or two of my own gifts!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Advent :: Day twelve

Always guaranteed to make an appearance in this house at least once in December... plus several guest appearances throughout the year too, although usually without the reindeer.

Choc full of brazil nuts and cherries... so really good for you!