Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stir up Sunday

OK, so I know you're meant to make the Christmas pudding on Stir up Sunday, but I'm not making Christmas pudding this year, so I made the Christmas cake instead.

I went for the cop out option, a box of ingredients from Waitrose. This really is incredibly funny - you don't even have to measure things, it's all just packaged up separately ready to go in the mixing bowl. Like they used to do it on Blue Peter.

 Although they don't prepare the cake tin for you, had to do that myself!

Otherwise you just empty the lot into a bowl in a particular order and mix it all together. It didn't really feel like proper cooking! A few additional ingredients have to be added - orange & lemon zest, butter and 5 eggs.

 Put it in the cake tin:

 Shove it in the oven for 4 hours and lick the bowl out whilst you're waiting. This was also enough time to cook a roast dinner in t'other oven, watch Casualty and read the paper.

 And ta-da, one Christmas cake ready for marzipanning and icing at a later date.

The bonus of using the box kit was, I think, that it was a bit more economical than buying the ingredients separately. I'd have had things like the flour, sugar and spices in anyway, as I use those fairly regularly, but I'd have had to buy the black treacle, almonds and some of the dried fruit specially, and most of the rest of packets of that would have been wasted. Although it seemed a bit wasteful on the packaging front?

The extra ingredients were OK, as I use butter and eggs in cooking anyway, so had those in. I did have to buy an orange and lemon for the recipe, but I ate the orange, and sliced up the lemon to put in the freezer ready for future gin-and-tonics so it didn't go to waste.

Forgot to add - it's the Delia Christmas cake recipe.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Knitting update

This is the first of the pair of slipper socks for my nephew's birthday. Only took me a week to knit it, which I thought was good going! The pattern is from Sensational Knitted Socks, and it's DK 100% wool on 3mm needles.

And I had to wait to post a picture of these, which I made last month. I have been busily knitting away on various projects, but most of them can't be revealed at the moment!

The pattern is Polka Dot Bootees and Hat by Zoƫ Mellor. It's in the book "Adorable knits for tots". Although I didn't use the polka dots this time, just stripes! The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. This is for the baby of someone at knitting group, who is due at Christmas. We gave her presents at knitting group tonight, even though the baby isn't here yet! First time I've participated in a "baby shower".

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Garden at the beginning of November

Hmm, slight problem. I now don't see the house/garden in daylight on week days. This was my attempt at Garden on the first of November using the flash. But you can't see much out there.

[Incidentally, when the clocks went back last weekend - I remember the days when this was Wildly Exciting because if you were having a sleepover you had an extra hour in which to watch videos. Now that I am ancient it means an extra hour of sleep.]

And the garden this weekend. So we're still in the first week of November, anyway. Again, not a lot has changed. We're having unseasonally warm weather - it's still been in the high teens temperature- wise most of the week, and is only going to be dropping to 14-16°C this week. No sign of a frost yet and it's November! The leaves haven't really changed colour that much either, they've just fallen off, so it hasn't been much of an Autumn. There were leaves all over the lawn earlier that day, but the OH cleared them all off before he took the picture!

We have been doing exciting things in the garden though. We got rid of this HUGE buddleia and two yew trees as they were stopping anything growing around them and were a bit too close to the house. The buddleia must have been planted by the previous owners of the house and hadn't been pruned back in goodness knows how long, so, although it flowered, it flowered at about roof height, which isn't great for seeing the flowers or the butterflies!

Amazing what a difference it makes! I've planted three pyracanthas (in red, orange and yellow) there, and the Silver Hedghog Holly we bought on my birthday instead, plus moved the ceanothus over to that side of the garden too as it had got too big for its original place. I've also planted lots of daffodils, tulips and crocuses here too. The idea is for the pyracanthas to grow up the wall, providing lots of berries for the birds to eat through the winter.

 The ceanothus was bigger than me. We bought it on honeymoon and it was a tiny little thing in a pot, which easily fitted in the footwell in the car then. It would fill the entire car now!

That seems to have taken up most of the weekends recently. It's surprising how fast the time goes when you're outside gardening.

This week I also paid a visit one evening to the Women's Library, in the East End, for a talk and tour. It's a really interesting place and well worth a visit or a look at their website. Their current exhibition is "All work and low pay - the story of women and work".

I also paid a quick visit to Carlyle's House, which is now shut for the winter, but I got to see behind the scenes! ;-) It was most fun and I'm planning a trip back there when it re-opens next year. I have actually been meaning to visit it since 2006, when I read "The Carlyles at home" (published by Persephone Books) but have never managed to get myself organised to go.

One of my nephew's slipper socks is now finished, I'll post a picture later this week when I can do a knitting update!