Friday, 25 September 2015

MacMillian Coffee Morning 2015

cakes all ready last night
A big baking session last night in my kitchen. Most of you that follow my blog will have been touched by cancer either a family member or friend - most people are touched by this at some point in their lives. We always thinks its someone else until it happens to us. I remember thinking oh god not the C word, my dad, why my dad? before sobbing.  Two years ago my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer and fortunately for us he had fantastic care through MacMillan and is in remission with regular check-ups. So this year I decided to hold another MacMillan coffee morning, or rather day at work! It started at 10am and finished at 3pm, not bad for a small office with only 14 members of staff there today. We grazed all day long. My day started with cake for breakfast, lunch was cake and tea time was cake. I think I'll be off cake for a day or so.

jam tarts in progress

I love cake, who doesn't so three ladies at work decided to bake and sell the yummy treats to the office today, all day (almost).

tray bake

I found a really east madeira tray bake recipe and it was a huge hit, I think I ate most of it. I'm going to make it again very very soon.

the baking team (me, Debbie and Janine) my lovely work mates

This is easy to make Madeira cake that keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks in an airtight container, so it can be done well in advance. But who keeps cake that long? You will make it and eat it immediately it is that tasty! Decorate with whatever sweets or sprinkles you have to hand, I opted for 100s and thousands and lemon icing.

Ingredients – for an 8-inch square tin 200g butter 200g caster sugar 4 eggs 150g plain flour 50g self-raising flour 3 tsp milk Method Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after every addition. Sift in the flour then fold it in, then stir in the milk. Transfer into a greased tin and smooth the top, then bake at 160 C until the top is firm and golden (and you can smell cake!). Allow to cool then pour over icing and shake over sprinkles. Cut into squares once the icing has set. That's it, really easy.

So today I raised over £75 with the sale of chilli jam, strawberry jam, cakes and savouries.

Janine's malteser tray bake sold out first

my jam tarts with vanilla pastry

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

jam making and gardening (a lovely combination)

A fully packed weekend, need Monday to recover! So here are some photos of my weekend in the lovely warm Kent sunshine. I hope you had some sunshine where you live, sadly its now raining.

Faversham food and crafts on Saturday with Jack, lots of lovely produce and a great selection of hand made gifts.

Sunday, spent almost the entire day gardening but did save time to make strawberry jam and chill jam and a few more rows of my snood, almost done and this one will be added to my Folksy shop. I plan to make another for myself on holiday later in October. I bought a bargain bundle of Cath Kidston yarn on eBay, can't wait to receive it!

garden tidy-up well under way

Local Kent strawberries

row ten complete

home made strawberry jam

home made chilli jam for my MacMillian coffee afternoon at work

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Cath Kidston granny stripe cowl

The start of another new project, this time a Cath Kidston inspired snood. 
This has been on my to-do-list for a very long time. I was lucky to find 4 balls off wool in my local knitting shop sale bin for £1.50 each plus I bought one at full price. The pattern suggests 13 rows but I may make mine a bit wider. Here is the pattern link if you fancy making one 

the beginning

adding the blue

curled up under my granny stripe blanket

Sunday, 13 September 2015

September Sunshine

Saturday night knitting spot

What's up with the weather? Four days of lovely sunshine and today's temperature was 21 degrees, perfect. Perfect for a spot of knitting in the garden. I bought some Louisa Harding Akiko yarn last week, it's beautiful, soft and the colour is just lovely - denim meets Aqua. It's knits up well and the blackberry stitch beanie is just perfect, soft and snugly. You can find the pattern here
I'm off to the Broads in October and although I've already knitted two of these for myself, it's always good to have a new colour and it looks great in the sunshine.

knitting in the garden

I've now gifted the latest granny stripe blanket to my niece Megan who's off to Bath next week to start her first year in uni. She loved the blanket which was such a relief, I've been making it on and off for almost six months alongside my granny square blanket and I managed to finish both of them in the same week. I'm sitting under mine tonight as it's chilly now. 

Megan and Mikes farewell dinner

Megan's blanket

My two nieces, Yasmin (with James) and Megan (with Mike)

farmers market

The local farmers market is still around and I showed my support this morning buying home made pies from my friend Linda and local veg - it's pie and mash for dinner today (yummy) oh and some cakes for later. I'm looking forward to the next one in October.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Hedgerow jam (blackberry jam recipe)

I found this great recipe on Friday. My next door neighbours daughter had been picking blackberries and I offered to make her jam from her harvest. It worked a treat and tasted lovely. Obviously I had to keep one large jar to sample with uncut bread and real butter!

the finished jam

one large jar for me


about to start

Friday, 4 September 2015

Do you Tunisian crochet?

I had the hooks, the basic patterns and this week I've had the time. I took the week off to chill out, do nice things including of course lots of crochet time.

I crochet in the Beth Chatto Gardens on Wednesday, more about the beautiful gardens in another post. If you've never been and you are near Colchester, Essex you should go it's such a tranquil place.

crochet granny squares at the Beth Chatto gardens

So earlier this week I found my Tunisian crochet hooks, popped over to Pinterest and taught myself in under 5 mins and now I'm hooked, I love it. It's sort of a combination of crochet and knitting. I experimented this morning with a bag full of merino scraps left over from my granny blanket and here is my stripey snood in progress. 

I made up the pattern, here it is. 

Start with a foundation chain of 30 on size 6 hook, use DK that would normally require size 4 pins. Then change colour on the return pass. It gives you a nice contrast row and that's it. I'm going to keep going until it's long enough to wrap over twice for a snuggle snood.

my first attempt at Tunisian crochet

adding colours

my yarn bucket

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ta dah moment

Not one but two granny blankets finished in August and I'm almost up to date with wips, just two scarfs and one granny scrap blanket and one summer jumper to finish. I think I'll leave the summer jumper for now as its pouring with rain and I'm far too focused on my new granny square blanket. And I bought myself four new crochet books to get more inspiration.

a new granny blanket

My nieces (Megan) uni blanket is finished and boxed ready to gift later in September (photos later) and I finished my large granny square blanket on Saturday night which I am really happy with. I have a large tub full of left over yarn and I've now started another blanket. I've worked out its better to sew in the ends as you go along which saves heaps of time at the end. This one shouldn't take very long to make. I've already made 30 squares, well with two rounds out of 4 but I'm working in batches this time. Not only is it quicker but I can work out which colours to use in advance to make the most of the yarn I have left. It was so time consuming with the first one changing colours all the time but the result was good and random which is what I was looking for. And it looked vintage which I wanted. It has so many colours from the Debbie Bliss Rialto range, some bought a few years ago and are now discontinued. Sorry to post so many photos, I'm kind of obsessed!

I've wanted to make one for years, ever since I saw one for sale in a craft shop in Rochester high street. I had to learn first and I've been learning new things ever since I taught myself to crochet. It's a lovely portable project, therapeutic and you get a lovely warm snugly blanket at the end. What's not to like? Anyway I have a weeks holiday next week just pottering about at home, lots of crochet time and gardening to do.

sewing in the ends
join as you go method leaves lovely hinges in your blanket when folded
ta dah my finished blanket

my first and most recent finished blankets

a new blanket in progress