Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Let's just say...

...I'm not a natural baker.
Last Saturday I had a notion to make a cake. Now this doesn't happen often and when it does I have to go out and buy all the makings. I daren't have butter in the house because it haunts me, flour is not something I use much unless I am making a cake and we already know that's a rare thing, the only one who eats eggs is the old man, so naturally I never have any of those...

Anyway, I found a recipe for Victoria Sponge that being my favourite. Bear in mind that I have an O level in Housecraft and have actually made one of these on more than one occasion. The book I was looking in (I realised this at a later stage) assumed that one would be using a big mixer. I don't have one of those and tend to rely on the wooden spoon and hand blender from about 1978 method of mixing. So, this recipe tells you to bung it all in and get mixing. Not being a natural baker, or it seems, clever enough to suss out the fact that a mixer was required here, I did it. In my bowl I had butter (not softened, why bother? I soon found out.) Flour, sugar and beaten eggs. For those of you who are indeed natural bakers you can imagine the state I got myself into. And my kitchen. Embarassed though I am, I took pictures.
At about this time, when I had splattered the kitchen with so much cake mixture it looked like a plasterer's radio, Teenage Daughter#2, who is 14, walked in and told me I was doing it wrong. After I beat her severely about the head and put her in a children's home, I carried on, doing my utmost to get this bowl of floury, eggy lumps to resemble something of a 'soft dropping consistency.'
Eventually, after leaving it in the oven a tad too long and enjoying licking the bowl out a little too much, I ended up with a cake.
It tasted ok, if a bit biscuity, I pretended it was lovely when the rest of the family refused to eat any. The half that broke into three pieces was used on the bottom so it didn't show and it sort of stuck together with the buttercream icing. (Did I mention that I bought that in a tub?)
On Sunday, said Teenage Daughter, (on a jolly from the children's home) made cup cakes. I have to say that they were so light and fluffy and spongy they could have been sold in a shop. Little mare.
I have decided that one of my ambitions has gone up the swanee. Just because I am good at buying china doesn't mean I would be any good at owning a tea shop. Unless I employ the teenage daughter to do the cooking.
No danger of me entering The Great British Bake Off.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gratuitious Bad Blanket Shots. (and other things.)

Hello chaps! The holiday blanket is finished. The holiday is now a distant memory, the tan has faded and all I have to show for it is this blanket. (Ok, three handbags, a hand painted olive dish, a bottle of Jo Malone's new whiff and a folder of photos...)
Anyway, here it is. Please excuse the awful photography, this is the second attempt and I have decided that I don't have time in my life to try and get better at this skill.
I am happy with it, apart from the vaguely curling edges, especially because I did it by accident. There was no intention there when I started having a bash at the squares from the Jan Eaton book, but once I got going and realised how easy they were (most of them, some were little barks, and not the ones you expect either,)I just kept going.
I have dragged it round the house, making it pose in different rooms.
And on different chairs.
And folded this way and that to get the full effect of every square.
I know when I look at people's completed work I like to study it in detail. So one more. (Can you tell how proud I am of this little baby?)
Eventually it will reside on Teenage Daughter #2's bed. On the end of it anyway. I am witholding it until a tidy and clean up has been completed in case it ends up with botulism of the blanket. Once in its final home, I may photograph it again. Depending on the level of filth in her room at the time. In an effort to be fair I offered to make Teenage Daughter #1 a blankie but after her giving me a withering look and telling me I was sick, I decided she probably didn't really want one.

In between all the blankiness I found a lovely scarf pattern here http://clevercheshirecats.blogspot.com/2011/06/victoria-frills-spring-scarf-tutorial.html and I sort of adapted it (made it without the flowers and with different wool) and this is what I ended up with.
I'm in love with these ruffles and so much in love that I am trying to work out a way to get two rows round the edge of a scarf without it looking lumpy. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them.
Looking even more ruffly.
Big shout out to Cecile for being such a willing model.

Whilst taking the photos of the holiday blanket I noticed this on the floor. I am ashamed to say that my dog sleeps on it.
This is only half of it. My mum made this back in the late 60s or early 70s and it's flipping huge. There are two, the other one is in my loft as last winter my house begun to look just a little too blankety. I remember her making these, and they were always about in our house, and last year I asked if my mum still had them and she gave them to me. I think I should give one to my sister. Mum also made us crocheted dresses and ponchos. I wish I still had them too. I am making my mum a blanket now, so it all goes round in a circle doesn't it?

Other Things.
Mainly these.
Aren't they pretty? Matalan. They have a whole range of stuff, some of which is lovely. My sister wanted to get the egg cups because she saw them in a magazine so we trotted up there and found them along with mugs (too thick to drink from) side plates (very pretty but I need a plate like I need a hole in the head and I like the old ones) a cup and saucer (again, too thick to drink from but look nice) egg cups (no one in my house eats boiled eggs) a tea pot (nice but didn't like the shape of the knob on the lid) sugar bowl and cream jug (may well yet be purchased) and these pasta bowls( ran to the till with them and had pasta for tea last night just so I could give them an airing.) Now I'm not normally a Matalan fan, although I did buy an ok plastic bay tree in there once, and a huge clock that I knocked off the bathroom wall and broke last week, but if they are going to start doing stuff like this in there I will have to keep going in for a butchers.

Just lately I have been spending a lot of time with my sister and we both love a charity shop mission. We found a newly opened one last week and piled in and started having a look round. We were in there no more than 45 seconds when the manager asked if we were dealers. We laughed and said we wished we were and probably could be with the amount of old junk we both have loafing about, but I wondered what made her think that. I decided it is because whence in a chazza we are so focussed. China, glass, pyrex and fripperies first, bedcovers and tablecloth rail next, children's books, and a quick swoop round and we're out of there. We went back in there yesterday and the woman remembered us and asked us if we'd found anything good lately, I don't think she believed that we were just buying for ourselves. To be honest she is a bit of a would be dealer herself and has things like 'Victorian trio' written on things, which is something I don't really expect in a charity shop and puts me off a bit. Mind you I got a nice little glass sugar shaker in there yesterday and will be checking it out on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Hello girlies.
Oh dear, blocking is pants isn't it? Even with the blocking board (piece of foam with writing on it) it isn't much fun. I dread to think what the dining room table looks like underneath it, I have been scraping pins all over it for days now. The only thing keeping me going is the realisation that all my hard work (ha ha ha) whilst lying on that sunlounger, will be wasted if I don't use these squares.

Have finished crocheting and sewn together the bag, and now have to find a suitable piece of fabric and put my pants sewing skills to the test when I try to line it. I don't think I will ever use it, apart from in Wool Corner but it was quite good fun to make.
By the way, there are handles, they are languishing inside the bag waiting to be lined. (I expect they will be collecting their pension before that day comes...)
Yesterday I finally gave in and went to a lovely wool shop that I had purposely been staying away from for the sake of my bank balance. I did buy some wool and am now making a scarf. I think I bought 12 balls so I will be scarfed up to the eyeballs.
Have found myself loads of projects today browsing blogs and Ravelry and my brain is going mad deciding what to make next. Really I have enough on the go to last me some time but pretty things are calling me and my stash.

This week Teenage Daughter #1 landed herself a full time job. She is now a Junior Legal Secretary in a law firm. Last night we cracked open a bottle of champagne and had a celebratory Chinese takeaway. The hard work for the last two years at college has paid off and I am delighted for her. I will let her have a month in Cloud Cuckoo Land and then I will be hitting her for the housekeeping money. Can't wait. Her paying me. I thought this day would never come!
Still haven't got the memory stick with the chazza buys on it, but will post pictures (of stuff I needed so much I have forgotten most of it already...)when I have.
Enjoy your evening, chicks.

Friday, 9 September 2011

I started so I'll finish...

Now I knew I had started a few things crochet wise, I have been a tad indecisive just lately about what to make, so I thought I would have a quick butchers through the bag I keep all the half started, half abandoned things in.
Oh dear...
Erm... I will finish some of them, Miss. Really I will.
Other things on the go...
The bobble blanket, which grows about a millimetre a week, is now my Travelling Crochet Project. You only need one ball of wool, so perfect for bunging in a carrier bag into a handbag. I told Teenage Daughter #1 yesterday as I was doing a row in the car (long story...) and she told me I was mental. Not as mental as helping myself to two grey wooden boxes with heart cut outs and a metal bulb thingy with a handle from the left out rubbish outside a shop opposite where she is temping yesterday. (I may claim that last sentence as the worst example of written English on a blog, ever.) I did ask the shopkeeper first and then furtively rushed them back to my car before said daughter looked up from her typewriter and saw me through the window while she was trying to be all secretaryish.
Last night I did these,
They are the squares I didn't like from the Cute and Easy crochet book. They will be a bag, if I don't get fed up with it in the meantime and go back to one of the other wips. Mind you, these squares take about 15-20 minutes if that so I could have it done pretty quickly if I get on with it.
Yesterday I took delivery of my shiny, new blocking board, which is a bit of foam with fabric on the top with centimetre squares on it. I am happy with it though, but need more pins as I have all those squares I did on holiday to block and can only pin out three at a time. I'm dying to get that sewn together and edged to prove to myself that I can actually finish something and not just keep crocheting aimlessly and buying wool like it is going on the ration. (The wool shop had a sale.. of course I had to go in there twice in one day... anyone would...)
Just lately I have been on plenty of charity shop forays and took some pictures but they are on a memory stick that one of the girls has at the moment so I will show them on a later post.
Please note that my dog gets in almost every photo. Now the camera is away he is back on the sofa asleep.
By the way you can click on these photos to make them bigger. I would like them to come out bigger as I post them but don't know how to do that.