Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our favourite cake

Do you have a regular baking repertoire or do you seek new challenges each time you bake? I cannot resist new cookery books and regularly add to my groaning shelves. I cannot help but notice that many book
s are simply variations on those I already own but still I am lured by pretty covers and evocative words. My most used books remain pretty much the same, Nigella Lawson's How to Eat is well thumbed and often consulted, no pictures in this one but a very readable book. Equally readable and beautifully photographed is Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. I have several Nigel Slater books and love his style of cooking and writing. His books have all been well cooked from. A relative newcomer to my favourites is Tessa Kiros, Falling Cloudberries, good recipes, beautiful words and pictures. Of course there is Delia who cannot be beaten for fact and method. Then there are all the others......many, many others, some have never been cooked from (head hangs in shame). Some are browsed on occasion and some earn their place for the sake of just two or three recipes.

The cake above came from one such book, Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall's Family Cookbook. It is a good book and I am a fan of Hugh but really there is nothing terribly new for me, most of the recipes and information I already have in other books. However, the marshmallow recipe was what gave this b
ook a place on the shelf, excellent marshmallows made with egg white and gelatine, a joy to make and eat.

Back to the cake, Victoria Sponge is a cake which I have made many times but remains a favourite, simple, no adulterations but always with jam and cream. This is the birthday cake of choice for The Technical Advisor and he has even been known to bake his very own version for entry into the hotly contested "Men's Victoria Sponge" section of the village show. That's right, very hotly contested, possibly one of the most competitive sections of the entire show.

This cake was baked partly because Jane's was still fresh in my mind and partly because The Family Cookbook version caught my eye. The recipe was the same as any other I have used but for one difference, the eggs are weighed (in their shells) and then the other ingredients are weighed to match. My four eggs came 282g so that is the exact amount of flour, sugar and butter I used and the result was a fine big cake, truthfully the best I have ever made.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy socks

Socks for Tilly, finished. I made them big and long, I imagine them being worn inside wellies on wintery days or keeping
toes warm on crisp early mornings.

The yarn is Piece of Beauty, Hot Pink, it was a pleasure to work with and the socks knitted up very quickly in odd moments here and there. I think I would like a pair for myself, Hot Pink seems to make such very happy looking socks.

Every member of the family now has one pair of hand knitted socks, something that fills me with happiness. Time to get started on those second pairs I guess. Perhaps it may even be time to break into patterned socks...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another year

The blog has been neglected again, thank you everyone who commented on my last post, I have replied to some and Blogger has hindered replies to others and some I just have not got around to yet, but please know that I really appreciate when people take the time to comment and I love reading those comments and learning a little about the people who write them.

It seems over a week has gone by since my last post and in my defence I can tell you that it has been a busy week. A week which saw me grow a year older (although I am calling it 34 again, I reckon I have at least another 5 years of 34 to go.) I had a lovely birthday and The Technical Advisor surprised me with a new camera. The new camera is both wonderful and terrifying and we will need time to get to know each other really well, it can do so much more than the old camera and the instruction booklet is so much bigger. I am being brave (with advanced years comes bravery?) and tackling it head on, I love that the pictures it takes have so much depth, it makes a huge difference outdoors especiallly but I find all the knobs and buttons a little overwhelming, however I am not going to shy away from this, I am learning as I go, taking pictures everyday and repeatedly playing with those settings.

The camera had a special outing on Friday when I left the house at the rather ungodly hour of 5.50am in order to catch a train to Birmingham. I visited the Festival of Quilts for the first time last year and was determined to make a return trip this year. This time I met a very dear friend and after checking in to our really lovely hotel we made our way to the festival. It was brilliant of course, so much to see, inspire and buy and all the better for having such lovely company. We stayed in a rather splendid hotel and spent Saturday doing a little shopping and having very relaxing child free lunch. This was my second ever girly away night (the first was about seven years ago) since having children and my oh my, how it recharges the batteries! It was so good to chat and chat and chat some more, we are both determined to repeat the experience sooner rather than later.

It may seem that there is not a whole lot of knitting or making around here lately but that simply is not true. The basket is testament to the fact that there is plenty going on, just a lazy blogger who forgets to give the knitting the prime position it deserves. That mass of grey is an Hourglass Sweater, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I am using an Alpaca yarn, considerably lighter weight than the Noro I should think but I seem to have gauge using 4mms so keep your fingers crossed for me. It is the first time I have ever made a sweater in the round and I am enjoying the process, I have reached the sleeves now and am awaiting the arrival of some shorter circular needles before proceeding.

Then there is this bag too, the seaming bag. One Harry Potter sweater finished but in need of a tiny bit more seaming. Soon, very soon. Tonight I will finish Tilly's pink socks, photographs to follow this week. Suddenly I have realised that there will be no socks in progress so excuse me while I hot foot it to an online stash enhancement establishment immediately.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I have been tagged again, this time by Bethany, and I feel rather ashamed because I still haven't completed the last 3 or 4 tags. I find these really difficult and I cannot think why. I start to respond to them and then I overthink the darned thing and then I lie awake at night thinking about the darned thing and usually feel quite happy with the responses I come up with at 2am in the dark but they have left my mind by morning. This time I am just going to start writing and if I don't get to the end then so be it, here goes.

Eight Facts

1. I was born in 1970 in Northern Ireland, that makes me a child of the Troubles. In 1977 I appeared in a television advert for peace, the slogan was "7 years is enough" and mine was one of the faces which the camera particularly honed in on. The cameras had come to school and I had no idea what they were doing which is probably why I was looking at the camera so mu
ch. Sadly the advert did nothing to avert The Troubles which continued for quite a few more years.

2. I can try on clothes really quickly, faster than any of my friends, this is because of fact number one. There is nothing like a bomb scare being announced while you are in you knickers to teach you to be quicker in changing rooms.

3. My little fingers bend inwards, my Nana had the same affliction and my son has it too.

4. As a student I had a number of temping jobs and on one occasion I was a postwoman, it was my worst job ever, the sack across my back was so heavy that when I bent down to one of those ground level letterboxes the weight of the sack toppled me over and I couldn't get up again. I rolled around on my back with my legs in the air for several minutes before I managed to undo the sack.

5. I hate Marmite.

6. I cannot bear to have my hair stroked.

7. I was once really good at ballet, I have lots of trophies, medals and exam certificates. I wanted to go to ballet school from age 4 until age 14 and I could have gone at 11 but my parents wanted me to wait until 16. At age 14 I discovered boys and started skipping ballet. In spite of all this I am a pretty rubbish dancer nowadays with a distinct lack of rhythm which unfortunately in no way stops me dancing at parties.

8. I love to wear dresses. I wear trousers and skirts too but rarely jeans. I like dress up whenever possible and as I don't get out a great deal these days I just dress up to do the shopping. As I live in the country with dogs and children dressing up is not particularly practical but you only live once. The Technical Advisor thinks my clothes are becoming more eccentric and this does not bother me at all, in fact I am quite pleased. By the time I am 60 I plan to be really, really eccentric, I will wear purple hats whenever I please.
The pictures in this post were taken on a recent (rare this summer) sunny day at Shell Island, Llanbedr. I am not going to tag anyone because I am so late doing this that I think most people have done it already but if you would like to have a go then please do, I love reading tags, just find them difficult to do myself.


The school holidays seem to be whizzing along and to tell the truth, strange as it may seem, I rather like having them at home for so long, I love the six week break and regret that it is not eight weeks as it is in Northern Ireland. Six weeks goes too quickly in my opinion! I am not some sort of saint, I yell as much as the next fishwife but I love the feeling of not having to rush anywhere, so far these holidays have been a bit too busy but they are beginning to slow down a little now and I look forward to some long lazy days together, a bit of painting, lots of books together, some marathon lego sessions and just watching and listening to the two of them.

Inspite of this.... I am breathing a sigh of relief today, drinking in the silence and peace and that lovely feeling of absolute stillness that comes of being home alone, bar two lazy dogs. Yesterday was Dylan's eighth
birthday and 12 children (of whom only 8 were invited) attended a very noisy party. Some idiot (that will be The Technical Advisor) had agreed to putting "water pistol fight" on the invites. I had almost forgotten about this as guests arrived armed with "super soakers" and water bombs, sadly The Technical Advisor was unable to leave work in time to join the fun!!!????? He informed me of this about 2 hours before the party and of that we will say no more. Thankfully it was a beautiful day (but don't be envious those of you in rain-soaked Britain, the rain came back today). This afternoon the birthday boy and his sister have gone to visit Grandmother and I get to drink in that lovely silence while drinking tea, browsing my Rowan 42, which looks good, really, really good. No family dinner to prepare just have to think about mixing cocktails and preparing some nibbles for my girls evening tonight, a small group of us are gathering to sip kitsch drinks and watch a few Doris Day movies, sounds good doesn't it?

The pictures are of the latest baby gift, yet another of those little Erika Knight sweaters in Rowan 4ply Soft and a pair of a little pair of boots in the rather lovely Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I know, I know, I do seem to knit that sweater rather a lot but it is such a great quick knit and always seems to fit pretty well so I make no apologies.