Friday, 30 November 2012

Only 24 hours left . . .

 . . . . to join in my giveaway.

The lovely people at F+W Media have offered another 2 copies of Knitting Know-how, so that means I now have 3 copies to give away. Go to my blog post here and leave a comment for a chance to win

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wow, my 600th blog post!

Who'da thought way back in January 2010 that I'd be here, almost 3 years later, with 600 posts under my belt? 

This blogging lark is quite addictive. I started out by writing about my knitting and my family, but my love of photography and my recent relocation seem to have taken over and the knitting hardly features at all these days.

I've said before, but its well worth saying again, I've "met" some really lovely people in blogland, even been on to meet a couple in real-life - Tracy and Eileen - I've taken part in swaps, hosted and entered give-aways, commented on goodness knows how many other blogs, and now follow people all over the planet, from Buenos Aires to Queensland and most places in between.

I've had such an enjoyable time, I'm so looking forward to the next three years/600 posts.

I would like to say a very big Thank You to all my followers, I'm amazed that so many of you read my witterings! I sincerely hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

As winter approaches . . .

. . . and days get shorter, much shorter, and gloomier, it becomes imperative to cut back the masses of growth on the pergola just outside the kitchen window, so that we can make the most of the available daylight (as well as clearing a great big jumbled mess and to encourage stronger growth in the spring).

The process took a while, as several attempts were needed, but its done now . . .

. . . and, although it looks fairly drastic, the jasmine and the wisteria will benefit from the haircut and grow stronger next spring, plus we have daylight in the kitchen.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Bacon burgers

We've had a burger-maker for several years and I've always made my own beefburgers from shop-bought mince. But recently we acquired a mincer, one of those good old-fashioned cast iron ones that screw onto the worktop. It was Rog's idea to try making some bacon burgers.

We paid a visit to Whiterow Farm shop, which is only a few miles away from us. It's a fairly upmarket establishment and most of their produce is very fine, but a bit pricy - except for their bacon offcuts! We bought a whole kilo for just under a fiver!

There were only a few bits of rind to throw away, then I put it through the mincer. .

 . . . this is half of it.

Working with roughly 500g, you need to add an egg, a couple of desertspoonfuls of roughage (I use oatbran, but you could just as easily use breadcrumbs), and seasoning to taste - as its smoked I dont personally add any salt.

Mix it all up together until homogenous, then prepare the burger maker - mine is from Lakeland, and has served me well over the years.

You can make your bacon burgers any thickness you like up to the maximum depth of the burger maker, which is about 1.7cm, but I personally think that while thats fine for beefburgers its just a bit too thick for the bacon ones. I find that if I fill a ramekin and then use half of the contents for each burger, they come out at about 1cm thick and just right for us.

I made about 30 burgers from the whole kilo, and including the price of 2 eggs, that works out at under 20p per burger. Pop them in the freezer and use as required (they cook better defrosted, so remember to pull them out of the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight). They are delicious in pitta bread with lettuce and tomato, a different take on a BLT, or use them as you would a normal rasher of bacon. Enjoy.

I would urge you to use and eat only British bacon - yes, I know Danish is much cheaper, but the reason for that is they dont have the same rules of animal welfare as we do, and their pigs are not humanely bred and slaughtered as ours are.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Knitting Know-How, a review and a giveaway

I was sent this book to review by F+W Media. The book was free, and my review is freely given.

I have to admit that, having been knitting since age 5, which is almost 60 years now, and having knitted clothes for myself, my four children, my three grandchildren, as well as toys and various other items as gifts and to sell, I thought I knew most, if not all, of what there is to know about the craft of knitting. Which just goes to show how wrong you can be.

I have certainly been surprised, on reading this book, how much I didn't know about knitting - who, for instance, knew there were so very many different ways to cast on and off? (or bind off, as those pesky Americans say). It certainly has been a real eye-opener.

The book is 10" x 8", soft-covered,with over 270 pages, including five parts, 17 chapters, an index, a host of explanatory colour photographs and the combined knowledge of 100 years of knitting and over 50 years of teaching experience of the two authors, Dorothy T. Ratigan and Judith Durant.

The blurb on the website says :

Top Pick"Everything you need to know to knit like a pro! "Knitting Know-How" isn't just another collection of knitting techniques--it's an indispensable resource for making every stitch better! From basic knit and purl stitches to cables, lace, color knitting and garment design, you'll learn the ins and outs of improving your knitting and choosing one technique over another for the results you want. If you have ever wondered which cast-ons are suitable for socks, why you should always (always!) knit a gauge swatch, or how to fix a mis-crossed cable, this book is for you!Discover hundreds of essential techniques, demonstrated with clear step-by-step photos and no-nonsense instructions.Learn how your choices in technique and knitting method can make all the difference in your finished pieces. Design your own garments--or adjust existing patterns--with clear examples and lessons that demystify the math.Put your knowledge to work with 8 project lessons, including double-knit mittens, stranded colorwork socks and an intricately cabled Aran sweater. Are you ready to become a master knitter? Gather your yarn and needles and open this book--your knitting will thank you!"

Its a great book, with a huge amount of information for beginners and seasoned knitters alike, you can click here to buy at the bargain price of £12.74 (cover price £16.99).
Much as I would love to keep this book, I have so many books already that my shelves are groaning, so I am offering this book as a giveaway, if you would like a chance to win it please leave a comment below, I'll put the names in a hat and draw a winner next Saturday, 1st December.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Seeing red . . .

. . . what with it being November and all, and it having been a pretty rainy year so far, I just thought, well why not try to brighten things up a bit, so here are some red pictures.

Hope you have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Our next project . . .

. . . is the dining room.

This is the room that was originally designated as the snug, but its next to the kitchen, opens into the conservatory and has views out to the garden, so we decided to turn it into the dining room.

It needs a lot of work:
the door into the conservatory needs replacing,
the skirting boards are different heights on each side of the room so need matching up,
the fireplace opening is not central in the chimney breast so after throwing various ideas around we have decided to block it off completely,
the radiator is poorly positioned and the wrong shape and size, so we'll be replacing it with a low, long, slim one on a different wall,
the carpet is very badly stained so is already removed,
the painted paper on the walls will have to come off, likewise the dado rail, which we are neither of us that keen on,
the walls will need to be replastered and either painted or papered,
and we think we may be able to polish up the floorboards after replacing one or two of them.
Thankfully the ceiling and coving are in good condition.

It wont be a quick job, but hopefully with Oli home to help us we should have it finished some time in the spring, so watch this space for monthly progress reports.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The kitchen is finished

Earlier in the year we built a wall (click here to view) between the open plan L-shaped kitchen/dining room - the kitchen is a good size but simply didn't have enough cupboards, and we also wanted a breakfast bar. Many thanks go to a kitchen fitter called Steve, who was able to convert our hasty scribbles into meaningful constructions, so that we ended up with just what we wanted . . . .

. . . lots more wall and floor cupboard space and a useful 2-seater breakfast bar.

We struggled to find a paint colour that matched the rest of the room, and couldn't agree on a contrast colour (ignore the paint swatches on the wall, they were inherited from the previous owners), so opted instead to find a wallpaper that matched our two new bar stools. Rog hates wallpapering, but I'm quite happy to do it, it was a fairly self-contained space, and only took me about 4 hours from start to finish.

We just love the end result.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Christmas Cracker Swap

Sometime last month I put my name down to enter Mad About Bags Christmas Cracker Swap (which you can read about here), and I was paired with Ellie of Feltabulous. We contacted each other and followed each others blogs, so we could get an idea of what we liked, and by the end of last week we both had our crackers ready, and agreed to post them on Friday. I received mine from Ellie on Saturday, she received hers from me on Monday, so now we can show and tell.

Firstly, Ellie's cracker for me:

Look how neatly she has finished of her fabric, which had a lovely holly design. She had included a Christmas card, my first this year.

The contents of the cracker neatly fitted inside the roll

All beautifully wrapped in seasonal green and red tissue paper

And, wow, what a lovely assortment of gifts, isn't it amazing how much you can fit inside a kitchen-roll inner tube!

Ellie made this lovely felt heart

I mentioned that I loved cosmos, so she had included a packet of seeds.

Yummy chocolate, a beautiful pair of ear-rings, a pair of red hearts, a row-counter, a pair of stitch holders

Lots of lovely Christmassy ribbons

and a keyring, with these fabulous polymer clay beads that she made

Thank you so much Ellie for being a great swap partner, and also a big thank you to Tracy, at Mad About Bags, for organising this swap.

Here is what I sent to Ellie

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Pumpkin Soup

Yes, I know its a bit late, I bought the pumpkin back in mid-October, but then I had other things to do, then it was cakes for Marissa's birthday, and it wasn't until yesterday that I had time to make it.

Rummaged through the fridge and found about a third of a swede and some celery, pulled potatoes and onions out of the veg cupboard and a plastic container of lentils.

Only used about half of the pumpkin, so hopefully when this lot is gone it'll still be OK in the fridge and I can make some more.

Saved a couple of seeds, so I can try growing my own for next year.

Chopped all the ingredients into the pan with water to cover, added some mixed herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Simmered slowly for a couple of hours.

Dished up