Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hey Ho and Away We Go!

Chelsea Buns

Really really busy packing and sorting for our 6 week trip to the UK. We leave on Saturday and I have sooooo much to do. So before I go, I'd like to leave you with this yummy recipe from my friend Kate. I'm just going to have to make it just one more time before Saturday, despite the mountain of jobs I have waiting. Will bring them into Kindy on S's last day, Friday. It'll be a treat for the teachers as they are sooooo delicious. I had so many projects I wanted complete before leaving, but this trip has descended upon us so quickly....and boy do we need a holiday. We've not really had a decent one since arriving here over 4 years ago. We've just had the odd weekend away here and there. So this is long awaited and much deserved. A has been working like a trojan and I've been doing the usual frantic Mummy thing. I will try and post while I'm away as we are bringing the laptop. But I warn you, it will probably be just photos of my shopping. But that won't be dissappointing, fingers crossed. Any of you gals from the South of England have any recommendations for fabric/craft/wool shops PLEASE do let me know. We will be based around Brighton/Worthing area and will be doing day trips into London.

Here's the recipe scribbled onto a beautiful recipe card from my friend Glenda's Phoenix Trading. I think you should be able to read it once you've enlarged the photo. Anyhoo, happy blogging fellow bloggeroonies and looking forward to keeping up with your projects from the 'other side'. xx

Monday, June 1, 2009

A FO at last!

A Child's Cornish-Style Sweater - Pattern Notes

I knitted this sweater/jumper in 8ply Turkish cotton with 3.75mm needles. The pattern actually called for 4ply and 3.25mm needles. So I did some swatching and managed to get the correct tension of 22st and 30 rows (10cm x 10cm). I can't tell you much about the pattern/designer as I photocopied the pattern from a library book and failed to note down the title or author of the book - opps!

This 'Gansey' pattern was really fun to knit as it gives the opportunity to practice some different stitches and techniques. There is ribbing, cable, moss and grille stitch. The front and back are exactly the same. You leave the shoulders and neck stitches live and then come back and knit them together using a third needle. Quite simple once I got the hang of it. You then use a circular need to knit the ribbed collar.

Any modifications? I added an extra 5cm to both the sleeve and body length. All my children are long-limbed and have a long torso. If I was going to re-do it again I would have made the neck very slightly smaller. But overall I'm quite happy with the outcome. The cotton will machine wash nicely and will be light enough for the warmer weather we are looking forward to in a couple of weeks (off to the UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Made some really yummy things over the long weekend. Eaten far too many of them - about to go and get another to accompany my cup of tea. Will share soon.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Savoury Pinwheel Scones

You can't say better than this....here I am sitting on my comfy couch, writing a post listening to Chris Moyles on my brand spanking new laptop! AND the kids are out with their Dad getting some fresh air. Now I have just sat down after 1 1/2 hours of clearing up the dump that was my house. So I do feel quite justified having a bit of space for myself. Oh and did I say I was drinking a very yummy cup of coffee. Since my friend Kate has returned from the UK - she has introduced a love of real coffee! Naughty but nice!

Well as you can see by the title of my post and if you take a little glimpse of the photo below, you'll realise I've been a-busy a-baking again. Thanks to Liz who camp up trumps with the recipe for me after putting up with me for a good couple of months of badgering her for it. I tasted her lovely cheesey hamy scrolly delights at the school's local teddy bears picnic and I new I had to have this recipe for myself. I have struggled with making scrolls in past and this is my best attempt to date.

2 cups flour
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp mustard powder
salt n pepper
4 tsp butter
50g tasty (mature) cheddar
3/4 cup trim milk
filling: 100g ham, 100g tasty (mature) cheddar
  • set oven for 220C
  • sift flour, baking powder, mustard powder and s n p
  • rub in butter and cheese
  • gradually add milk using knife
  • knead gently
  • roll out to form rectangle
  • slice ham into ribbons and spread over scone mixture and cover with cheese
  • roll up and cut into 8
  • place on greased oven tray and bake for 20m or until golden
  • ENJOY!!!

My three monkeys loved them! These are great lunch box fillers! I'm thinking of substituting the ham with marmite as we are a family of marmite lovers. Hope you all are having a fab weekend!

PS - I hope you're trying some of these recipes Carina. After getting your cups you've got no excuse honey!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Baby Eva

I just had to share these photos of my gorgeous little niece. She lives with her Mummy and Daddy in the UK with the rest of our family. I was chuffed to bits to receive these photos of baby Eva wearing the gifts I knitted. Isn't she gorgeous!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cornish Knitting and Tomato Relish

Life is just so busy. I can't imagine how some of you Mums get time to produce so much. This weekend was full of a mass organisation of childrens' clothing. The weather seems to have skipped autumn and it's now winter for sure! So it's time to dig out the winter clothes.
Now, clothes really annoy me, I know we need them and all that. Perish the thought of walking around starkers. But washing them, hanging them out, bringing them back in again, discovering and treating stains, folding them, ironing them (doesn't happen often in my house), putting them away, putting them in storage - GOSH!!!! Anyway I spent my 'me-time' sorting the childrens' wardrobe. Making piles for the Plunkett sale (children's clothes/toys bring and buy type thing), piles of summer clothes for the UK (we have a 6 week holiday back there mid June), piles for the opp shop and piles for storage for next summer. JOY!

Today I've thought a lot about my lovely Gran from Cornwall who taught me to knit and crochet. It would have been her 92nd birthday today. Well here's the progress made on my Cornish jumper for little E. I'm determined to finish it this week.

Tomato Relish

Some slightly over-ripe tomatoes caught my eye at the fruit and vege shop and I remembered Monique's tomato relish recipe. So I bought up large and spent yesterday evening simmering up the above ingredients (plus white vinegar) in a big pot. And it is truly YUMMY!!!!! Had some with cheese and crackers this afternoon and was really pleased with the outcome. Do pop over to her lovely blog and check out the recipe.

Off to enjoy an evening of knitting while watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters - excellent.
PS - did anyone else think that Adam from American Idol was totally robbed?
PPS - What is it with the spacing in blogger - I cannot change my linespacing. arrrghhhh!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I actually won something really cool!

I can't believe it.....I won the giveaway on Sue's hilarious blog "Dollytub Cottage". You must stop by and treat yourself to giggle or two,- my visits there truly brighten my day. I am going to be the proud owner of one of these...

...a Cath Kidston Tesco shopping bag. As an English gal living down under, I am chuffed beyond measure! I soooo miss Tescos (sad I know!) and Cath Kidston stuff is kinda hard to come by here in NZ. So I'm made up! Thank you Sue!!!

Well - I've amended my dodgy looking flower, sorry about the glarey photo. I'm currently in a knitting frenzy trying to finish the Cornish Style Jumper before E is too big to wear it.

Oh and guess who arrived to join the family today?

This adorable mini lop-eared bunny sits in the palm of your hand. He is currently adjusting to his new environment, so eager Es has to wait before she can handle him. I will post more cute pictures of this bundle of fluff very soon. He hasn't been given his name yet...but the contenders are...Skippy, Pixie, Thumper and Ziggy. Anyone have any ideas?
Thanks for all your comments - I do love to read them!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flowery Fun!

With the cold, dark evenings drawing in I am enjoying some crochet snuggled under a fluffy blanket in front of the tellie. The flower pattern is from Luce's colourful blog at attic 24 and the hearts are from here. I'm thinking of making a bunting for Es' bedroom with these. I've used up left over cotton, but am running out. So will have to add that to my shopping list. Do you think I should keep to the same sort of palette of pastels or do you think I could throw in some brights? The flowers are not perfect.....in actual fact I've just realised why the purple flower looks slightly odd. There are only 5 inner petals and there should be 6. Oh well, will have to fix that otherwise it'll annoy me.

I have actually used this crochet flower pattern before. Remember this?

With the cold, dark evenings drawing in I am enjoying some crochet snuggled under a fluffy blanket in front of the tellie. The flower pattern is from Luce's colourful blog at attic 24 and the hearts are from here. I'm thinking of making a bunting for Es' bedroom with these. Well off to sort out that rather sad looking purple flower....ho hum!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eye Spy - What am I reading now?

Thanks to Cindy for hosting this 'Eye Spy - what I am reading now thingy-me-bob' and Monique for the theme of reading. Pop over to Cindy if you want to join in.

I found this book in a thrift store and have been highly recommended it by my friend Megan. I've never read Jodi Picoult and am actually really enjoying her style! On reading the blurb on the cover, I nearly didn't bother. It is about a 13 year old girl who has been conceived to be a match and donor to her sister who has leukemia (depressing?). But I took the plunge and am loving it. What I like about this book is that it makes you consider the value of human life and question the rights of others. What should you do when two of your morals seem to conflict one another? It also puts life into perspective. My heart goes out to all those parents who have children who are seriously unwell. Makes my little problems seem so trivial. Here's a quote which I earmarked to read to my bookclub...

"...maybe who we are isn't so much about what we do, but rather what we're capable of when we least expect it."

I love books that set me thinking and move me out of my 'comfort zone' and force me to evaluate life's fundamental questions and deeper meaning. Whoooo steady on.....need to drink my milo and head for bed.....too much thinking makes my nappy brain ache! ...nightie night...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Baking and some more Baking!

Now that the bunting, balloons and cards are down - life can return to it's normal (still rather fast) pace.

And after all of that sewing I returned to some baking. After receiving a dinner invitation from my good friend Glenda, I decided to take another shot at my Cinnamon Raisin Plait. The children are always so famished after school/kindy and I thought this would hit the spot for afternoon tea. I remembered to let it prove for only the recommended 30m (not 2 hours!) and got a much better result.

Although - there are a few more amendments I would make (less yeast, more fruit and cinnamon). So when I'm happy with this recipe, I will post it.

Notice Little S' small bun he made especially for Glenda's youngest daughter. Very sweet!

Es and I attended a Mother's Day Breakfast at her school yesterday. It was a mad dash at 7am and it was rather crazy with long queues for food and tea/coffee and too many tables, chairs and bodies in one hall. But it was lovely to do be with Es - just the two of us. I tried to block out the chaos of it all and enjoy being with her. The mother's received some gifts (hand cream pilates vouchers and flowers and I actually won something....lippy and some pop socks on the rather large size).

Look what I ate for breakfast this morning. I hate breakfast and always try and force something down as it's "good for you". But somehow, this slips down a treat with a lovely cup of tea. I made this yesterday. It is 'Chocolate Caramel Slice' from the same Foodtown Mag that the Plait came from. I've always been quite a fan of this magazine, the recipes are relatively simple and use ingredients you already have in the cupboard - bonus! 'Simple but delicious' is always a winner for me. I wouldn't change anything about this recipe it was totally divine! Little S is allergic to egg and nut, so it is nice to have a yummy recipe for a slice that doesn't have 'crushed biscuits' (which always have 'trace of nuts' warning).
150g butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
395g tin condensed milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
75g butter
  • oven temp 180 C - line 20cm x 20cm tin
  • cream butter and sugar, stir in vanilla essence
  • add sifted flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix together until combined
  • press two-thirds of mixture in tin ( I needed to add 2 tbsp of water to make mixture more moist)
  • place condensed milk, golden syrup, brown sugar and butter into a saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until combined and thickened. Pour caramel over the base
  • sprinkle remaining mixture over the caramel. Bake for 20-25 m. Cool in tin before cutting.
The kids absolutely scoffed this down as did everyone I offered some to. But as always - I ate the most!

My sister visited 6 months ago (from UK) and left me her most favourite skirt. She had it made in Vietnam whilst she was back-packing and she describes it as the perfect shape/size etc. However, she had worn so much the zip had fallen out and the black had faded to a charcoal colour. So I offered to try and make another one. I unpicked it all completely so I could get the best measurements and use it as a pattern. Since photographing this I have actually nearly finished it - so I'll get a finished shot for you tomorrow!
Thanks for popping by.........go on make yourself some chocolate caramel slice....I bet you've got all the ingredients in your pantry already, if not put - condensed milk on your shopping list!

Monday, May 4, 2009

party bags, tablecloths, beads

My little girlie is 7....life whizzes by. But I can hardly remember life before she popped into our world. Well, I did manage to zip together some party bags. I actually started them at 9.30 the night before. Yes - how stupid can you get. I know, but I really didn't have time to do it before then - honestly. I number of cheeky friends of mine commented that they were disappointed I didn't embroider each child's name. Well if I start now, I may be able to complete bags for next year.....and include their middle and last names too! NOT!!!

I have to apologise for my photography, everything was so frantic that I didn't take proper photos of the bags. We had a Bead Party for Es, and it was wonderful! And in the bag, was some chocolate, the necklace and bracelet made by each child and one of these...

....little bunny biscuits with lemon icing. Es is getting a bunny for her birthday, it's currently four weeks old and with it's Mummy. There will be photos of the new member of our family real soon.

I made some afternoon tea for the party little guests - shortbread, chicken sandwiches, meringues (first time I've made these), marshmallows dipped in chocolate and a giant cupcake cake which didn't look like cupcake-ish at all....but it still looked like it had been transported from fairyland (so Gary says!). Note the tablecloth I made (stupidly made the morning of the party - as if I didn't have enough to do!). But I say - why miss out on all the fun things about being a Mum? It's the small things in life isn't it?

The bead party was a massive success! The bead lady turned up with 3 caseloads of colourful beads, she gave a demonstration and off the little girlies went to choose their selection. Brilliant! They were quiet as mice for nearly one and a half hours - RESULT! Some wonderful creations came into being and it was fascinating to watch each child's unique style. Some of the girls said they were making the bracelet for their Mum for Mother's Day, which is this Sunday here in NZ. How sweet is that - without any prompting at all!

This is Es threading her bracelet, she is already wearing the necklace she made. How cute does it look? She chose such gorgeous colours! She made the bracelet to match her dress - vibrant purples and blues!

I was so exhausted the following day and out of the blue our friends called us and invited us to spend the day out on their launch. Awesome - just what the doctor ordered!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birthday Bunting Bonanza!

Es' Birthday Bunting.......DONE! (said in Gordon Ramsay style voice)

Well I've just tucked in a very excited, now not so little, birthday girl. I have just made a lovely cup of tea, cut a sneaky slice of birthday cake and finally put my feet up. Had a rather busy day, but had soooo much fun! I managed to get Es' birthday bunting done in time and A. and I spent yesterday evening wrapping presents, blowing balloons, curling ribbon and hanging the bunting. It was well worth the effort, when she entered the lounge this morning....her mouth dropped open.

I am overall really pleased with the end result, although I had a bit of problem with the bias binding. I thought I was being really economical buying the binding which wasn't pre-folded. However, after slipping around with my iron and making many unwanted creases I was rather gutted I didn't opt for pre-folded. Anyhoo, after my initial frustrations with it, I came back to it and it wasn't as bad as I first thought. We do like to punish ourselves for slight imperfections don't we? I completed 9 metres in all and it was just about right in our lounge. I decided not to hang it flat against the wall but across the room with a 3D effect. It was quite effective I thought. I still have 12 triangles left and I'm intending to make one for Es' room. A big thank you to Stacey for inspiring me to create bunting. It really is a great idea to make a birthday decoration which can come out every year, it is something that will become a family tradition and an heirloom.

I made Es our favourite chocolate cake recipe and decorated it with pink butter icing and made some pink sugar for the topping. This is an egg-free cake and it's so easy, it is all done in the saucepan! The cake is quite a moist cake, not too rich and is complimented scrummily with the butter icing. The topping is just plain granulated sugar dyed pink with a drop of colouring. This is the first time I've done this and I am surprised about how effective it is, it adds a different crunchy texture to the cake. I'll definitely do this again - particularly with cupcakes - you could make them in an array of colours!

One Pot Chocolate Cake

125g margarine/butter
2 dessertspoons golden syrup
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 c sugar
1 c milk
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Melt marg/butter, sugar, golden syrup, 1/2 c milk. Add siften flour/cocoa. Stir well. Combine vanilla, baking soda and rest of milk, then add to mixture. Put in 8" tin and bake at 180 C for 40-50 mins.

I acually doubled the quanity and used a heart shaped tin. I do like a filling in my cakes - the more butter and sugar the better. Naughty but nice!

This afternoon we had close friends around for some birthday cake and then some spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. Es had such fun and the evening ended with some dancing to her favourite songs.....Newton Faulkner, Scissor Sisters and Mamma Mia - funny! It was great to see her amongst her friends dancing, whirling around and enjoying the moment. The day ended with the big reveal of her main birthday present. A rabbit hutch. No bunny as yet, little baby mini lop rabbit is only 3 weeks old and is with it's Mummy. She squealed with excitement! There will be photos to follow of our little bunny. We are going to meet it this week.
We still have Es' birthday party with her 10 school friends on Saturday, so they'll be more party pics too. Have to sew my table cloths and party bags before then. Busy, busy.....off to get some much needed shut eye....nightie night!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Birthday Shenanigans

Had my birthday at the beginning of the week. I had to decide how on earth I could spend the day with four children (I look after my friend's 3 year old daughter). And I erred on the side of complete insanity and headed into town for some shopping! The first shop I entered was a shop called 'Retreat' - start as you mean to go on. Despite the amount of breakable candle holders, vases and other fragile objects: there were no incidents. I think I put it down to the fact that I read them the riot act beforehand, the lovely sales assistant who occupied them while I browsed and the promise of an ice cream at the end for good behaviour.

And then it dawned on me after entering a number of shops, people actually felt sorry for me shopping with four children on my birthday..............so assistants entertained the children. AWESOME! I made it known in every shop I entered that it was my birthday and I managed to buy two tops, a vase, hair products and two gifts for A and Es. Not bad eh? Had sushi for lunch and got ice creams for the kids. A successful morning!

Had a wonderful afternoon at my friend Kate's - she made the children dinner and Glenda brought an egg-free chocolate cake and pudding! Talk about spoilt! Now take a look at this gorgeous card Glenda gave me. I think I'm going to frame it - I totally love it. It's a Phoenix Trading card.
Here is a selection of some gifts I received. The flowers are in the vase I bought myself. The gorgeous tea towels (I do love a classy tea towel and my thread bare, holey ones are in need of replacement!) are also from Glenda and the pretty hand made make up bag is from Sarah. Sarah is just so talented, do go and take a look at what she's been up to. She churns out such lovely things and she has four children! AMAZING!

Very soon I'll have some photos of the bunting triangles. I am certainly not finding the school hols conducive to my productivity! I do love the slow mornings, staying in bed for that bit longer, mooching around and getting breakfast at my own pace. BUT, I'm so tired and the children do need the social interaction, challenges and routine that school/kindy brings. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it, that's what I say - ha ha ha! Catch ya laters! x

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cinnamon and Raisin Plait

Had a great weekend, took things pretty easy (as much as you can do with three kiddies). I took S to a birthday party at Lollipops Playland. I do enjoy being able to spend some one on one time with each of the children. Es and I often do a lot of 'girlie' things together, but it isn't often I get S to myself. He has come on leaps and bounds since he started morning Kindy. He's really found himself, grown in confidence, made some little friends and is just such a lovely little lad. Believe me, we've come along way....he was a very clingy, shy, timid toddler who enjoyed pulling things apart and never quite got the word 'No'. It was fun to see S enjoying himself with his friends and having a ball. I try to take a mental snapshot of these occasions, life rarely slows down enough to savour these moments.
A took all three cherubs off for most of Sunday which gave me some time to just 'be'. It's a full-on time in the school holidays and boy did I need a break! I decided to make the Cinnamon and Raisin Plait from 'The Foodtown Magazine'. I was quite excited by some of the recipes in the magazine as many were egg-free (S has a severe nut and egg allergy, so I'm always on a hunt for suitable yummy things to make).

I do enjoy making bread and since my bread machine went bust a couple of months ago I've been doing it by hand. I thought I'd find it laborious, but not at all! I find the kneading very therapeutic. I used my limited braiding skills and managed to form a rather good plait. All seemed good at this stage and yes, it did go a bit wrong. The recipe said to place a warm, damp tea towel over it and leave it for 30 mins. Well I waited and waited thinking it should double in size like my other dough recipes. Well the dough proved so much it went out of shape and my lovely plait disappeared. I thought, what the hell and baked it anyway.
And this was the result. Not horrendous, but not like the photo either. It actually tasted better than it looked. I replaced the dates with raisins as this is more agreeable to the Littlies. Note to self: 'prove' only for the time stated in recipe and make the icing thicker as a lot of it ended up drizzling off onto the board. Then I sat down with a cuppa and some plait and admired the triangles I cut out and pinned the night before. The next job is the bias binding, nearly there. Hope you all had a fab weekend too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Knitting in Papamoa

Had the most lovely time at my Auntie's in Papamoa. It was GREAT to be out enjoying New Zealand, and this is something that must happen much more often! The five us were greeted on my Auntie's and Jeff's door step with a warm welcome and the smell of home-baked goodness - rock cakes and victoria sponge. YUM! I so miss all my family (who live in the UK) and seeing my Auntie was just the best. We definitely do not see her enough!

We made the most of the gorgeous weather and walked around Mt Manganui. An activity that would take roughly 1hour, however we had 3 reluctant walkers. Es forgot her trainers and walked in her flip flops, she made a great start but about half way around she developed a blister and then had to be carried by A. S is not a great walker anyway and often whinges when he has to walk 4 mins around the corner to school. And I gave Little E a piggy back most of the way around. Anyhoo......a beautiful and enjoyable walk all the same.

And a fun time spent at the beach...

I had high hopes for some knitting action and I did manage to get some done on the car journey down. Aunty G has knitted a lovely waistcoat in natural cream wool, she however hasn't mustered up the motivation to knit the buttonhole band.....it's often the finishing that gets me too.

So here is my current knitting project, it has been on the needles since October!!! It's a Cornish Style jumper which I found in a library book. It has cables, moss stitch, ribbing, garter and stockinette - a truly lovely pattern that reminds me of my lovely Gran who was from Cornwall herself. She patiently spent hours teaching me to knit when I was a child and when I rediscovered the craft as a young adult. I know she would be particularly impressed with this little number. It is for Little E who is 2 1/2. The pattern calls for 4ply yarn and 3.25mm needles, however I was keen to use 8ply cotton and managed to acquire the correct tension of 22st :: 10cm by changing to 3.75mm needles. This did take some swatching, so fingers crossed it will work out. I chose a petrol blue similar to the colour choice in the book.

So that was our Easter weekend, a big thank you to our hosts Auntie G and Jeff! We had a fab time! And as for this weekend, it's a-bunting I will go. Not long until Es' birthday party, so time is of the essence. Hope you and yours are all well and happy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Introducing Es

My daughter Es, is like my shadow when it comes to ‘making and doing’. She can be found peering over my shoulder itching to join in. So I do try and encourage her do have her own projects, I will share her efforts in this blog as well as my own. My Mum helped me teach Es to knit when she was over from the UK helping with newborn baby E. So Es has been knitting on and off since she was 4 ½. Bless!

A few days ago she brought home her sharing folder from school and what little treasures it contained. This portrait has to the sweetest one she’s drawn of our family and I just had to post it.

Es also likes to make use of all the scraps of material when I’m sewing. So we’ve made a few clothes for her dolls (rather fiddly). Her last creation with the remnants from the pink muslins (I made for baby Eva) was a blanket for her puppies.

Here are two knitted blankets for her Polly Pockets. Notice the white pillows their little heads are on, they were made from the lining from the nappy wallet. No waste in this house! Very sweet!

I’ve been busy cutting out 48 triangles for Es’ birthday bunting. We are escaping for the Easter weekend to my Auntie’s in Tauranga, so I do feel the pressure is now off for making the bunting in time for Easter. But I do have to knuckle down and get some after school egg blowing/decorating organised. A has just cooked a gorgeous Goan Prawn Curry, so it’s over and out for me!