Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas Everybody.

I'd just like to wish everyone a happy Christmas, we have had a lovely morning. There was the present unwrapping, of which I must have been a very lucky girl this year. Hubby bought me an ipad, (which was given a week early) I've been listening to Christmas carols and the seventies and eighties Christmas songs along with watching films, generally surfing and my very first audio book, The adventures of Tom Sawyer, which my father used to read to us as very young children, I have been giggling about the episode where Tom is white washing Aunt Polly's fence on a very hot day and persuades his friends that this is a fun thing to be doing. I am looking forward to downloading the Tales of Brer Rabbit, as my father used to put his all into the various characters as reading them. You must remember in those days, my father would sit in a very cold bedroom whilst we were tucked up in our beds, with woolen blankets and hot water bottles, with ice on the inside of the windows, nearly in the dark, listening avidly to every word until the sandman slowly took us off to dream of rabbits stuck in bramble patches.

Its been fun.

A project was finished and was able to be used for the first time.

Remember this, the Christmas tree skirt. I eventually decided that simplicity was better than over decorating it.

The tree itself. Which son no.2 decorated, he moans but seems to enjoy it. Although I do sometimes have to insist that even though there are decorations that are a little bit scruffy, that are old and might not sparkle as they did and might not appeal to him, they mean a lot to me and do need to be hung on the tree. I think he did a lovely job. I'll come back to the tree in a moment.

My how they have grown. Our two boys unwrapping their presents.

A camera each to record their escapades! You can video for an hour on it as well! Oh what fun I shall have reading their facebook accounts...

And I must share this with you all, because it is the most delightful of presents. Can you see it nestling in the tree?

Given to me by my most treasured God Daughter. You need a closer look?

Tears sprang to my eyes as I unwrapped it.

Such tiny paws. It will be fun watching her grow, (and if anything like her parents, she will grow and she will grow and she will grow! - they are nicely tall)

But I must tell you the tale of when delivering my God Daughters present because Santa had inadvertently left it at our house - how remiss of him! I had noticed a very similar bauble on Miss Kitty's tree. Out of all of the baubles it sprang out and I inquired about it. Where upon Carie gave it to me to admire and I cooed and was quite smitten with it whilst exclaiming that I had never seen anything like it before and how wonderful it was. And inside, but of course I would never say it, I thought, 'I would love something like that, with Miss Kitty's tiny fingers and toes to remember' and was just a little bit sad when it went back on the tree, but also thinking how lucky there were to always have such a reminder of these precious days. Which is why I leaked when I opened it. I will treasure it always.

And then my Christmas knitting. My adult sized toes are snuggled up in these jewel like socks, the yarn was a present from my hubby when we visited Socktopus many moons ago, Indigo Moon fingering weight in Starlight. I find this colourway extremely beautiful and it has been a pleasure to knit and one I will be unlikely to ever find again in this country.

And then Eric would like to say happy Christmas to you all.

And now hubby is cooking the Christmas dinner for me, how lucky can a girl get?!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Secret Santa at the Knitting group.

The last knitting group before Christmas,

Even though the snow and ice had taken hold of us who are snuggled in the deepest of Warwickshire, some of us ventured out to the knitting group. Firstly, there were the Secret Santa presents which were laid out on the table along with a bowl full of hand made chocolates by Cynthia, such a wonderful gift, most unexpected, of which we were all very grateful, they were absolutely delicious.

There was a quick snap of the group, and then....

Ronnie took a photo of two nutters! or should we say Santa -moi and Rudolf. (S) I love the fact that I have my very own Rudolf!, I am pretending to hold the reins which are two knitting needles... We were quite hysterical at this point. It was and is the highlight of my day, I knew just as soon as I saw those reindeer horns that we were going to have a good time...

Happy Christmas Everybody,

xx

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A cake in a day.

Sometime at the end of November I bought this.

Yep, one of Delia's Christmas Cake packs from Waitrose. I was quite giddy about it as I have been making Delia's Christmas Cake recipe for 23?! years. So I popped it in my basket, told some of my friends how wonderful it would be not to chase around for ingredients and promptly forgot about it. That is, until last week. When I realised that I would still need to do a certain amount of coordinating of ingredients. I say coordinating of ingredients rather than shopping because son no.2 is home from Uni and it is incredibly difficult to save five eggs. I have been shopping for eggs three times in the last week. Even to the point that as he went out sledging this morning, I asked him if he had had something to eat and his reply was a casual "oh yes, I've had some eggs", just as the front door closed behind him. I rushed to the kitchen and I could feel the beads of sweat beginning to form on my forehead and a rather colourful expletive was on the tip of my tongue, but fortunately he hadn't cleaned me out.

I must also say thank you to Diane, who could see that I was flailing at having to make the Christmas cake because I've been fighting off a persistent little virus for the last two weeks. I begged her to remind me to make the cake and true to her word she messaged me yesterday to ask if I'd made it. It was just the mental jog that I needed. That and that the kitchen had warmed up slightly, I think the fridge was warmer than our kitchen at one stage.

So this is what the kit looks like. I put the black treacle in a mug of hot water to warm up to make it easier to pour out. I liked the idea of the kit, I really liked it, but, my nuts would have been more chunky as would my glace cherries. And, I realise just how much I add a few more nuts or just a few more cherries, maybe an extra splash of brandy. But I stayed true to the package!

I mixed up the cake with the help of the ancient Kenwood and King's College Choir singing carols in the background.

And soon we had this, I couldn't find my brown paper so newspaper was the next best thing to insulate my tin with.

Four and a quarter hours later on a very low light, we had this.

Which smelt lovely, it was allowed to cool for a few hours with intermittent splashes of brandy poured over it - I actually finished the bottle so it had a couple more tablespoons than I would otherwise have given it.

Hubby helped to roll out the Marzipan whilst I brushed the apricot jam on.

I then I mixed some icing, again with the help of the Kenwood. (one can only wonder how long she will last, she has been in continuous service since 1953 and on her last legs for the last 10!)

Then strewed a few silver balls over and the cake was finished.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Thank you, you know who you are....

I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone that have been in contact with me over the last few days. It was like watching pigeons in wartime coming in with important messages, messages came by fair means or foul. Through Ravelry, through Facebook, via personal messenger, text or email. It was wonderful.

I think I have had some very good advice from such wonderful people as yourselves and it has cleared the fog that was preventing me from being able to manage the next stage. I shall clear away the synthetic wigs and put them up on ebay later on next year. I shall store the beautiful wigs just in case of a wig emergency and not think about it again until I am ready to send them on to their next owner. Which may take one year it may take ten, who knows, but I feel so much calmer and at peace about it all now.

Thank you so much for helping me through something that I had been stagnating in for quite a while. I really appreciated it. Your all Stars!

love to you all,

xx

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Crossing the Rubicon.

I am in a quandary, its been bouncing around in my brain for quite a while.

I think I shall put it on my things to discuss with my psychologist but I just wanted to bounce it off others before I make that step, and link it to a group called "Smooth Operators" (such a great name) on Ravelry.

If you would like to read a little background here is Wig 1 and what was an extremely frustrating moment Wig 2

The thing is I have two very beautiful and very long hand made wigs made in this country that was made with European hair, without spending thousands this is as good as it gets in the wig making fraternity in this country. My parents, who are both pensioners and have to watch their pennies donated £500 pounds to the cost of one of the two wigs that were specially made for me.

It was a very generous act, one which I am sure they hoped would make me extremely happy and able to cope with what life had thrown at me.

Fast forward two years and I have had one wig cut in, (very long fringe to hide bald eyebrows and layers) I've worn it a handful of times, it was still as depressing to wear a wig handmade for myself as it was a wig made from plastic bought of the shelf.

But I have kept hold of them, because I had this thought in my head that if one of my children were to marry, then they might prefer me in a wig, rather than being the center of attention and having a whole new group of people gawping at me. (the brides side) I thought I probably would cope better with a formal occasion, unless it was the middle of high summer which would mean they would find a soggy, sweat dripping down the face of Mother of the Groom perched in the corner of the room trying to look invisible.

And even though my children say that they wouldn't be very happy if the Brides mother (they are both not dating, but I can talk to them about my worries and they seem to understand) had this view and that if I wore a wig they wouldn't recognise me. Which is strange because I hardly recognise myself being bald yet my children are getting past the stage of recognising me with hair!

But as a woman, I am very aware at how some Brides mothers might want everything to be absolutely perfect and how having a bald woman in the line up of the immediate family pictures might somehow shatter their illusion of their daughters perfect day.

And even if my boys kicked off, I would understand that view from a woman that had high hopes.

On the other hand, these are beautiful wigs which would suit many people as they could be cut in to any style and because of their length they are still valuable. If I sold them, I could get rid of all of the wigs, and make a clean slate in my bedroom. (I would get rid of another four wigs that are synthetic as well).. And that would be nice.

Also, and this is very important too, I would like to pay the five hundred pounds back to my parents, so whatever I could get for them would be going back to them.

And this is the big but, what will happen if I regret it. Its crossing the Rubicon, is there a way out. I certainly wouldn't want to go through the NHS system again and have another wig fitting, along with the fact that it is extremely unlikely that they would give the go ahead for human hair wigs, (I was very depressed when that happened) its normal practise for alopecian's to be given synthetic wigs. And then I have lost something really beautiful which I may have wanted to use..

To be honest there was a very recent event, where I ummed and ahhed and had many crisis as to what to wear, both in clothes and bald or wigged. It was a formal but light hearted occasion with a very close friend where I would be 'on show' and it was okay, it was a lovely day, and although I haven't seen any photo's (which I am not sure is a good thing or a bad thing) I was made to feel very welcome looking just as I am, bald as a coot. It was a lovely day and looking back on the day I was able to be me.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

"The North wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn,
And Keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.


We in Warwickshire have been very lucky that we haven't had inches and inches of snow. We had a little bit, it stayed for a few days, it did not disrupt traffic and then it went. As a walker (rather than a driver) I did find the pavements very slippy, so I only went out if necessary. I think snow is pretty, but not if one were to break a hip.

However, we are having some very hard frosts and late morning today I took a photograph of the beautiful tree's caught in an icy pose. There is no wind at all, which would normally break up the ice. The lack of wind has created a very strange, eerie atmosphere, almost reminiscent of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner when the ship is caught in the doldrums.

Cottage Pie,

I do like a cottage pie especially when there is a chill in the air. You could label it cottage and vegetable pie. I do put a lot of vegetables into my pies, firstly, I am a veg freak, I love them and secondly its an easy way to bulk out your meat and slip in a few vegetables to a hungry child. I've perfected the way I add the carrots and swede in that I fry the onions then add the root vegetables and slowly saute them with a greased proof paper lid. Which allows enough steam to escape and the vegetables slowly soften and shrink and become sweeter. Then I add the mince and fry it off, minced garlic, (you wouldn't want your garlic to burn, which it will if you add it too early) tomato puree, various herbs, a beef stock cube and a good splash of worcester sauce, salt and black pepper, water to make the gravy and then I add a couple of handfuls of peas. Let it bubble for a bit, thicken it slightly with cornflour and let it stand whilst you deal with the potatoes. Cover it with mash and pop it in a medium hot oven for an hour. I always serve it with something green and leafy, yesterday it was a little broccoli although I think it would have worked better with a sharper vegetable such as kale.

And the beauty of this is its a substantial meal for much less than a fiver. Thank you Jamie, I have been perfecting my family meals over the course of twenty odd years, but I am glad you are teaching others on how to get the best out of their ingredients. And the best bit about home cooking, is the leftovers, especially on a cold and frosty day.

Lunch was delicious and I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. Five meals for about four pounds fifty, can't be bad.

I've finished son no.1's hat. It took longer than anticipated because of all of the cables, but it has turned out really well.

I've blocked it and it is at long last dry. The pattern is tighter where the cabling is and it does make it a snug fit. The blocking that I gave it has loosened it up in this area.

So at long last he will be able to wear it. I hope he enjoys it.

And the pattern is Knotty but Nice by Natalie Larson. It is a very popular pattern which people seem to be having a lot of fun with. The yarn I used was Rowan Pure Wool Aran on 4.5 mm needles. It was one of the Kemps specials, 500g for a fiver and therefore this hat cost me about 75p to knit, I am feeling thrifty at the moment. (My husband might say otherwise!)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Biscuit Emergency!

As a rule I don't keep biscuits or cakes in the house, its simply too tempting for me. When the boys were young we needed to keep odd bits and bobs like that in the cupboards, as boys, whilst growing are very much like locusts, they can clear a kitchen of tasty titbits in seconds. To be honest I was often mugged for high fat, high carbohydrate treats whilst walking from the front door to the kitchen, small boys pulling on my bags, with my cry of "Let me get in the door"

Its pretty cold around here and we have huge windows which are single glazed with steel window frames. You know when the curtains are open, its like a blast of frozen air from a freezer. Today the surveyor came around from our chosen double glazing merchant. It was going well until he told us that we probably wouldn't be fitted until March. We were definitely sad faced. :(

Hubby went back to work and I carried on with the baby sock that I was hoping to squeeze out of some very pretty yarn that I have. Nope, not enough yarn. Even sadder faced.

And it was then that I had a biscuit emergency! I had already eaten the chicken curry and rice from yesterday and had boiled eggs for breakfast, but there it was, the craving for a hit of fat and sugar.

I let the craving rage for an hour, then had an Options (40 calories!) Belgium Chocolate flavour drink, (yum) but that wasn't going to do the trick today. So another hour later, I put the oven on, whipped up a small batch of shortbread and put the kettle on whilst choosing which tea to drink. Mostly I drink decaf for various reasons, today I thought a little hit of caffeine might just pick me up, so chose Oolong which I find very pleasing.

The biscuits came out of the oven whilst the teapot was warming with freshly boiled water.

Tea and biscuits, ready to be taken into the living room to be slowly consumed in front of a roaring open fire.

All gone. And very nice it was too.

Still look on the bright side, at least I will have plenty of opportunities to wear my woolly socks and cardigans, this winter. I've always wondered whether I will actually like double glazing, this might sound odd but I quite like the odd draught, it freshens up a room and I like hearing the birds sing, the hooting of the owls, foxes calling to each other and footsteps in the night that are walking away, (not trying to break into my sons car as was once the case). I wonder just how much I will miss these things.