Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Cake - Decorating Lesson

J and I have just spent a wonderful morning with Ruth,  playing with fondant icing, butter cream and cake.  Ruth is a very talented woman, and I'm sure if the need ever arose she could be serious, but a smile and a laugh are never far away.

Here's our cake.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Brownies

170g plain flour
350g sugar 
150g coca
230g butter
4 eggs
10ml vanilla extract
100g milk chocolate (roughly chopped)
50-100g pecan nuts (roughly chopped)

Pre-heat oven to 175C.

Melt the butter in a bowl, using a microwave, then add the rest of the ingredients. Spread in a 32x23 baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes. 

I use Dove Farm gluten-free flour.  It is a straight swap, gram for gram.

Hot brownies, straight from the oven, make a wonderful dessert, especially when served with ice cream.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

TARDIS Birthday Cake

I made a TARDIS as a birthday cake for my daughter. There was a little hiccup in the time vortex and if didn't fully materialise until this afternoon. The TARDIS itself was a bit wibby-wobbly-cakey-wakey. However, a couple of enterprising people armed with cameras may have caught a glimpse of it. 

Ohhh, now that I look at the picture... it is wibbly-wobblier than I had first though!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Denim and fleece quilt

My current quilting project is a denim and fleece quilt.  The denim comes from old, old jeans that are no longer fit for purpose, and fleece comes from fleece blankets bought at B&Q.  

This type of quilt is rather different from the average.  This quilt is made by cutting out 16.5cm squares from old jeans, and new fleeces.  16.5cm (or 6.5") is the width of my quilting ruler.  A square of fleece is placed on a square of denim, and 2cm in from the edges of the square a line of machine stitching is made.  These sandwich squares are sewn together fleece sides facing, the stitching being 1.5cm in from the edge.  The denim is then frayed.  

The top of the quilt is a patchwork of denim squares.  These are outlined by the frayed denim and the lines of colourful fleece.  The bottom of the quilt is just fleece.  

This style of quilt is incredibly textural.  It is a perfect quilt for a blind person. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Carrot Cake Adventures

At some point in my life I am going to use a recipe as written.  I don't know when this will be, but it will happen.  My husband had asked for a carrot cake for his birthday cake.  This recipe was from the interweb, plucked at random because the accompanying photograph looked good.    The amount of oil in it was concerning at the time, and when I peeped in the oven half way though cooking I could see bubbling oil!  It was not an appetising sight.  This led to an experimentation with some of the ingredients and quantities.

This is the current recipe:

195g gluten-free SR flour
2 level tsp ground cinnamon
200g dark brown sugar
120ml vegetable oil
120ml apple sauce
3 eggs
270g grated carrots
90g chopped walnuts

The recipe called for 270ml of oil, and I used 120ml, and 120ml of apple sauce.  In the next incarnation of this recipe I will add in some apple juice for additional moisture, bringing it back up to the 270ml level rather than 240ml.

Whilst baking, I discovered that there was no castor sugar in the house, but there was dark brown sugar.  This has a better taste, so I used that instead.  However, the original recipe was a bit too sweet, and with the inclusion of apple sauce, I decided to reduce the amount of sugar to 200g.  This would be fine for a cake that is going to be iced.  We didn't apply cream cheese icing, and so it wasn't quite as sweet as I would normally like my cake to be.  Next time, I'll probably use 250g of sugar.

We've had walnut problems with this cake - there's been none in the house!  The first time through I used pecans, and rather nice they were too.  This time it was almonds.  But we like walnuts.  If I could just drill into people's heads the different between things in the baking cupboard and general snacks I would be able to bake with walnuts!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

250g self-raising flour (Dove gluten-free)
2 tsp cinnamon
100g sugar
1 egg
200g finely chopped apples
150ml apple juice
90ml vegetable oil
50g pumpkin seeds

1. Prepare the muffin tins, and pre-heat the oven to 200C
2.  In a large bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin seeds.  Mix well.
3.  In a second bowl, mix the egg, apples, apple juice and oil.  
4.  Add the wet to the dry, and mix quickly.
5.  Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.  

This recipe makes about 10 gluten-free, dairy-free muffins.  The muffins freeze very well, and are great hot, warm or cold.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Baby quilt

This is the quilt that I am currently working on.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Bobbin Lace

This is my first attempt at bobbin lace!

The camera was focusing on something in the background, hence the fuzzy picture.  I can see that there's a mistake in the middle of the lace where I have crossed a couple of the lines that go straight down.  And I think there are a couple of places where it isn't 'under, over, under over', but I can live with these mistakes in this very first piece.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Holiday Knitting

This year, I made 5 socks, started a 6th and knitted the front of a cushion cover.  

29 and 30.  white slipperette socks
31 and 31.  white slipperette socks
32.  Twisted Dozen sock in purple

(Not knitted on holiday, but definitely knitted, two additional slipperette socks, taking the total to 34.)

Last year I made socks for my Dad, and I asked if he might like another pair. There was a resounding 'Yes please'.  This time they are in a soft, soft merino 3ply.  Normally I would work in 4ply and cast on 60sts for an adult.  With this being 3ply, I am using 72sts and 2mm needles.  The needles are just half a millimetre smaller (diameter) than my standard sock needles, but they feel so much smaller!

I thought I had better offer some socks to my Mam, not really expecting to make them.  Mam surprised me and said she would love some.  This is the woman who taught me to knit when I was 4.  It was quite a thrill when she choose one of my patterns to be made up into socks.  

Dad's feet are almost the same size as my husband so it is easy to make socks the correct size for him.  For my Mam, I wanted her to try them on at each stage to ensure that they fitted perfectly.  

One Mammy sock made, and one Daddy sock started.  Christmas knitting is under way.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

30 Days of Giving - Days 17 to 30

Days 17 to 30

I tried, I really did, but blogging on a daily basis is not for me.  I thought I would manage it for 30 days for this project, but it didn't work out.
One of the problems was the task itself, to donate £1 a day to 30 different charities.  I simply don't come across that many charities in my daily life.  It feels really mean donating £1 at a time in anything other than a charity collection box.  Those are designed for small amounts of money.  Giving on-line, my concern is that the money is consumed by the administrative costs involved in using an on-line service. After just over two weeks I had exhausted the local charity boxes within my daily orbit. 

My Mam does a huge amount of charity work, especially knitting for 'shoe box charities'.  She is currently making 'glove puppet' mittens for the shoe boxes.  This gives the child two toys, but also warm hands.  

I used the remaining £14 from the '30 Days of Giving' to buy a large selection of sew-in craft eyes.  My Mam and her team of helpers will use these eye to add life to the glove puppets, and toys they make for children in poor circumstances.  

It actually feels better making this £14 donation than the previous sixteen £1 donations.  Whilst my Mam isn't running a registered charity, I know she will be putting those craft eyes to good use, and that final products will be given to registered charities.  Lots of little bits of good will come from this donation.

It is also good to say 'Project completed', even though I had to change the rules part way through.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Oat Bread, second version

I was in a bread-making mood recently and thought "I know, let's make oat bread!" But, this time around I didn't have nearly enough oats. This is the modified, modified version of Oat Bread. We like it better than the previous version.

Also in the previous version I had cut the quantities in half. This time I have doubled them up again. It fitted into three small loaf tins, and the slices of bread came out at about the size of half a slice of shop-bought bread.

The gluten-free breads I can buy locally lack body and texture. If you squish a slice of gf bread between your fingers it almost turns back into a dough. In gluten-bread, this would be a sign that the bread was undercooked. The addition of oats in bread gives a great deal of body. When you bite into the oat bread it actually feels like you are biting into bread!

200g of gluten-free oats

2 (14g) sachet of dried yeast
360ml of warm water
120ml of oil
4 tablespoons of sugar
360g of Dove Farm gluten-free flour
2 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1 tsp of salt
big pinch of cinnamon
4 eggs

In a food processor,  turn the oats into oat flour.  Add the yeast, sugar, flour, xanthan gum salt, and cinnamon.  Mix in the processor.  In a jug, break the eggs and mix, add the oil, and mix, then add the water.  Once combined, add to the dry ingredients.  Beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Turn out into a well greased loaf tin.  The dough will be a sticky mess at this point, not the beautifully smooth dough ball of gluten bread.  Place the tins in a warm place and leave to rise until it has doubled in size.  Sprinkle the top with a few oats, and bake in the oven at 175°C. 


Dove Farm flour is a great multi-purpose flour.  It is made from rice, potato, tapioca, maize & buckwheat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

30 Days of Giving - Day 16

Day 16

Riding for the Disabled is today's charity.    Many years ago, I had a friend who was horse mad, and who volunteered for Riding for the Disabled.  She would accompany the novice riders, helping to ensure that they were safe.  She spoke of the joy, contentment, excitement and exhilaration on the children's faces as they realised that they were able to control these huge beasts.  Suddenly their closed worlds exploded and possibilities presented themselves.  

RDA is a charity that expands the world of people with disabilities.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 15

Day 15

Crossroads Care is an organisation that seeks to help carers.  So often the needs of carers are overlooked and they can become isolate and exhausted.  Crossroads Care provides more than 50,000 hours of respite care to people on the island, as well as providing other support and advice.

The charity has a number of charity shops. These have some very useful functions including providing low cost clothing and goods, to recycling items no longer wanted/needed by their owners, and providing much needed funds for the charity.

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 14

Day 14

Today's charity is the Manx Diabetic Group.   Their aim is to "press for the right of all diabetics in the Isle of Man to receive the best possible care necessary to help them maintain good control of their condition and to be able to live a fulfilling life."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 13

Day 13 

My husband and I were discussing this project yesterday.  I mentioned that the majority of the charities so far have been medical or medical related ones.      He made a request that I include a literacy charity in this Thirty Days of Giving.

After scouring the interwebs, the best I have been able to come up with is the Family Library.  They do a great job of getting children interested in reading.

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 13

Day 13 

From the St John's Ambulance website: 

"We believe that it’s absolutely unacceptable that so many people die needlessly – because no one could give them first aid when they needed it. St John Ambulance teaches people first aid – about 800,000 last year alone – so that they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.  As a charity, we’re committed to making sure more people can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. To do that, we need your help."

The world needs people who are prepared to make a difference in their local communities.  

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 12

I think I need to face facts; I am useless at blogging on a daily basis.  The good intentions are there, but life gets in the way, or I simply forget.  Thankfully, I have not forgotten to donate £1 on the missing days - I managed that.  It was just writing about it.

Day 12

A donation has been given to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.  This charity does fantastic work in researching breast cancer.  A quarter of the research done in the UK is funded by Breakthrough.  They also provide a wide range of information.

However, my one big grumble with this charity is at that the images, the stories, the information is almost exclusively about women.  Men get breast cancer too.  A man's life time risk of getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000.  This is 100 times lower than a women, but sadly, because a lot of the breast cancer information was targeted only to women (not just talking about Breakthrough just now), there have been men who did not realise that it was possible to get breast cancer and who have died because they left it too late to seek treatment.

Yes, women are the ones who are most likely to be making use of breast cancer services, but it is important for men to be aware of the dangers too.  A bit more information would be good.  A bit less pink would be nice.  And changing the language from 'women' to 'people' would be wonderful.

But they do such fantastic research!  I am happy to think that my money (this £1, and the one pound coins given through the year) is going to fund the scientific reaseach.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 11

Day 11

Craig's Heartstrong Foundation is a charity set up to to raise the necessary funding to enable the heart screening of men and women between the ages of 14 and 35 here in the Isle of Man in order to detect any possible symptoms of long QT syndrome or Hypertrophic and Dilated Cardiomyopathy and thus help prevent Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 10

Day 10

I'm now a third of the way through, and I am starting to find this a difficult challenge.  Who, or what, should I give money to?  

It is also tricky because the challenge is to give away £1 a day.   £1 feels like a nice little donation to drop into a collecting tin, but it feels far too small when making an on-line donation, or one given face to face.    I have given one £1 donation to Jo at Methodist Live at Home, but I know her and was able to explain that it was part of a series of donations I was making.  

My inclination is to pop to the shops and see what collecting tins they have by the tills and select one of those charities.  But this does not feel like the best way to select charities to give to.  

In may ways, this challenge would be so much easier taken over a year, with £10 given out each week.  £10 feels like a figure that you could do something with.    

The postie has just been at the door, and I asked him.  He said that there is a collecting tin at work for Cancer Research, and he was happy to take my £1 and pop it in the box for me.

Cancer Research is such a good cause.  Advances are being made all of the time against the range of diseases called 'cancer'.  

And thinking about Cancer Research, it has brought on thoughts of donating to Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer and also the hospice.  

It's tasty, tasty, very, very tasty!

I have just eaten a wonderfully tasty breakfast; so tasty I wish to record it.  

It is not often that I eat breakfast as so much of what is touted as 'breakfast food' contains either gluten or eggs.  Neither of those make a tasty breakfast for me.  

Today I went back to an old breakfast style.  It is a home made 'muesli', but instead of oats, I use a gluten-free rice crispy style cereal.  To this was added some cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.  The quantities were 'what ever is left in the packet'!  This was topped with Rachel's low-fat vanilla yogurt.  So tasty.

Guess what I will be eating tomorrow for breakfast? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 9

Day 9

A round half of the people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year die.  It is thought that this is because the majority of people don't  seek medical advice until their cancer is advanced, making treatment more difficult and a successful outcome less likely.

A list of symptoms can be found here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 8

Day 8

Manx Gateway is a social club for people with learning difficulties. 

As well as providing a safe and social place for people to meet, they also run  a drama group and many sporting activities.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 7

Day 7 

The Parish Walk celebrates its 100th anniversary today.  

"At 10 pm on Wednesday 28 May 1913, twelve men started the Parish Walking Match to each of the Isle of Man’s 17 Parish Churches. The only prescribed route from the start at the Palace Ballroom on Douglas Promenade was via Broadway, York Road to the Quarter Bridge and Braddan Church. Thereafter the entrants could choose their own course between churches and back to Douglas. Harry Bridson was the first of just four walkers who covered the estimated 79 miles."

"100 years, 24 days and 10 hours later, around 1,500 walkers will commence a similar challenge. The distance is now fixed at 85 miles with a few course changes over the years to accommodate the increased levels of participation.  The printed results and stories are still in demand but much of the information is almost instantaneous.  Radio stations broadcast from the start and throughout the 24 time limit, mobile phone technology will allow spectators to share stories and photos on social media sites and around 30 minutes after the flag has dropped the first photos of the walkers will be available to download."

Today's competitors often use the opportunity to raise money for charity.  "Safe, Strong, Secure (3S)" is a charity which seeks to provided to people who are, or have been, dealing with domestic abuse.  One of the 3S team is  Will Brown; he hopes to be one of the top finishers in the under 21s.  he came in first place, winning the under-21 section of the competition.
3S hopes to raise money, but also raise awareness of domestic abuse.  "We want abuse to be no longer a shameful secret that is hidden away, but something the Isle of Man agrees is no longer acceptable."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 6

Day 6 

There was a young lass collecting for the Manx Blind Welfare Society.  My £1 coin was added to her collecting tin.

They help over 500 people on the island who have serious sight loss.  Blindness and other sight problems can be incredibly debilitating and isolating.  MBWC works hard, with their staff and huge number of volunteers to provide services that make a significant different in people's lives.  

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 5

Day 5

The charity today is Methodist Live at Home Schemes.

The aim of the Live at Home Schemes is to enable elderly people to live in their own homes, by offering friendship and support. 

The activities/services offered can be a little different from scheme to scheme, but typically they might be befriending, social group, including luncheon clubs, drop in sessions and coffee mornings, signposting service, day centre transport, and transport to essential appointments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday is 'TidyDay'

Defrosting the freezer is a big, and often wet job.  But the time has come.  I can't put it off any longer.  The freezer must be defrosted, cleaned and restocked.  

On the dining room table there is a mound of frozen food, nestled safely under towels and a duvet.  I hope the ice cream and orange lollipops survive their migration to the dining room.

At some point today there will also be general sitting room tidying.  

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 4

Day 4

At the end of March, the Isle of Man suffered from extreme weather conditions, described as being the worst in 50 years.  Some of the snowdrifts reached 6m in height.

Thousands of sheep and cattle were buried alive in the snow.  Some were able to be rescued, but it is over 9,000 animals were killed.  This was 10% of the island's livestock.

Today's donation is a bit more than £1 and goes to the Isle of Man Agricultural Benevolent Trust.  "The IOMABT is a registered charity established in 1995 with the aim of helping "genuine cases of hardship in the agricultural and associated sector."

Barrule, a Manx folk band, has released their recording of a  reworked traditional 18th century ballad 'Ny Kirree of Niaghtey' (The Sheep Under the Snow).  They have raised thousands of pounds for the IOMABT.

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 3

Day 3  

Oxfam is one of the charities I regularly support, and have done for years.  

Not only do Oxfam give emergency aid to people in most need, but they do so many other things too.  Along with emergency aid, development is very high on their list of priorities.  Other area in which they work are in water management, improved agricultural practises, health, education, citizen's rights...  This is an organisation I am happy to support.

I was looking at their website today, and one of the banners says "Poverty isn't inevitable.  It's just plain wrong...'

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving - Day 2

Day 2

Today's charity is a Manx charity, Sailing for the Disabled

A person with a  disability can find themselves prevented from joining in with all sorts of ordinary, every day events, as well as the less ordinary things too.  
When I was at school, I was part of the sailing group.  At times it was hard, physical work, as well as being great fun.  It brought moments of great calm and also adrenaline packed afternoons.  Groups like 'Sailing for the Disabled' give people a chance to reach beyond the ordinary, and to try new and exciting things. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thirty Days of Giving

I was feeling a bit of a rut, doing the same sorts of things over and over again.  I asked for some suggestions from on-line friends and they came up with a host of interesting ideas.

One idea was "Donate £1 to a different charity every day for a month and blog about which charities you chose and why."  And was born "Thirty Days of Charity".  I did wonder about waiting until the first of July to start, but decided to just go ahead and start today.

Day 1 

I am starting off with the Salvation Army Food Bank.  

It is so easy to think of hunger as being an African or 'third world' problem.  But there are people here too who are facing such financial hardship that they are unable to properly feed themselves, or their children.  

There was a BBC article about the SA Food Bank at the end of November last year.  The need has not changed.  

My church is has decided to have a collecting box. People can drop off canned/long-life foods and we will pass them onto the SA Food Bank for them.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pjs and Skirt

Yesterday I make some new pjs bottoms and today it was a new skirt (which I am currently wearing.)

Item 25 is another Bee Sock.  
26. a Twisted Dozen sock
27. pjs bottoms
28. wrap skirt

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A couple of socks

I have just finished knitting the Bee Socks.  The ends need to be woven in, the socks blocked, and then a bit of embroidery to finish them off.

Also finished is the first sock of Twisted Dozen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Stilton and Caramelised Onion Tartlets

200g shortcrust pastry
1 onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Stock Pot
1 pepper (bell pepper)
100g Stilton cheese

Line 4 individual loose bottomed pastry tins with the pastry. Prick the base with a fork. Put greaseproof squares over the pastry and cover with baking beans. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200°C. The baking beans will prevent the pastry base from puffing up.

Whilst the pastry is cooking slice the onions and start to caramelise them. Add a little water if needed. Slice the pepper and gently cook them in a small frying pan. When the onions have almost caramelised add the chopped garlic and stir. After 2 minutes add the Stock Pot and a small amount of water to help the stock disperse. Cook off any excess liquid. The onions should be moist, but there should be no liquids running off them.

Cut the Stilton into slices.

Take the pastry cases from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper.  Place the onions in the bottom of the pastry case, peppers in the middle and Stilton on top.  Return to the oven until the cheese has melted, bubbled and slightly browned.  


I made this with gluten-free pastry (DS-gluten free) and vegetarian stock.   The peppers were only put in two of the pastry cases as two members of the family do not like them.  The tartlets can be frozen.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lemon Muffins

Makes 10-11 muffins

250g self-raising flour (Dove Farm Flour for gluten-free)
100g white sugar
1 medium egg
240ml apple juice 
90ml vegetable oil
1 lemon
icing sugar

  1. Prepare muffin tin with paper or silicon muffin cases.  Preheat the oven to 190-200°C.
  2.  Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix, and the wet ingredients into a second bowl.  Grate the rind of the lemon into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix the contents of each bowl.  
  3. Combine the wet with the dry, mixing thoroughly, but working quickly.
  4. Divide the mixture between the 10-11 cases, and bake for 22-25 minutes.  
  5. Whilst the muffins are cooking, use a lemon reamer to extract the juice from the lemon.  Strain the lemon juice.  Slowly add icing sugar to the lemon juice, stirring as you go.  This will be about 3Tsp of icing sugar.  Combine it well.  This is the lemon glaze.
  6. When the muffins have cooked and are still hot, spoon a litle lemon glaze over each one.  Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes, and then place on a cooling rack.
The muffins freeze well, but they are best served warm.   They also freeze well.

Oat Bread

I have been meaning to make Oat Bread for quite some time, but haven't managed to get around to it.  Today is the day!

The original recipe is from  Yammies' Glutenfreedom, Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread.  However, there are a number of ingredients I either don't like or don't have.  Also the quantities are too big for my baking tins.   

This is my version of Oat Bread

200g of gluten-free oats
1 (7g) sashet of dried yeast
180ml of warm water
60ml of oil
2 tablespoons of sugar
80g of Dove Farm gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/2 tsp of salt
big pinch of cinnamon
2 eggs

In a food processor,  turn the oats into oat flour.  Add the yeast, sugar, flour, xanthan gum salt, and cinnamon.  Mix in the processor.  In a jug, break the eggs and mix, add the oil, and mix, then add the water.  Once combined, add to the dry ingredients.  Beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Turn out into a well greased loaf tin.  The dough will be a sticky mess at this point, not the beautifully smooth dough ball of gluten bread.  Place the tins in a warm place and leave to rise until it has doubled in size.  Sprinkle the top with a few oats, and bake in the oven at 175°C. 


Ohhhh!  That worked well!  Very well in fact!

How do you clean? In chunks!

Recently on an on-line discussion forum, someone asked 'How do you clean?'  This got me to thinking, how do I clean?  And that answer is 'In chunks'.

Let's explain that answer...

When I was a child, my method of tidying was to empty everything into a massive heap on the floor and try to cope with the massive heap.  This just created a problem that was too big for me to deal with.  I would work away at it for a while, but the problem was so big it didn't feel like I was making any progress, and so I would bundle it up and dump it in the wardrobe.  

In computing, I was introduce to the idea on specifying the problem and using the specification to find a solution.  The trick was to break things down into smaller and smaller bits until I think "Oh yes, I can do that."  By applying this technique to housekeeping, I was able to get rid of the massive pile on the floor that I could not tackle, and instead have a series of little tasks that I could manage quite easily.

Instead of setting a task of 'going through all of my clothes', I have little tasks like 'go through the top drawer in the chest of drawers', then the second, and the third etc.  Little chunks.

When I clean and tidy, I work on one chunk at a time.  On entering a room I choose the focal point.  In the kitchen this is the sink, in the bedroom the bed, the dining room has the dining table and in my craft room it is the craft table.  My object is to get that area done first.  Once that chunk has been done it has made a start, given me an access point, a place to spread out from.  

From there, I move to a nearby chunk and work on that.  Taking the bedroom for example, I made the bed and get that one thing done.  Next, I move around to the bedside table.  Now that the bed is tidy, I have a clean area that will allow me to spread out my accumulated clutter so that I can work on having a lovely bedside table.  The things that should be there (earring tidy, jewellery box, light, stack of books, clock, water glass and coaster) are replaced and the rest of the clutter is sorted.  It is either put away, or put out in the rubbish/recycling.

During all of this, I like to keep a TA DA! List.  'To do' lists leave me feeling overwhelmed, but when I have finished a task I can write/type it on my list, and I feel good.   I read through my TA DA! List and  feel contented.  I have accomplished something.  My world is a tidier, better place.  In the evening. 

Fifteen minutes on a sunny day

I love sunny days on my days-off; they make me feel alive and as if I could accomplish anything I set my mind too.  Today is a bight, sunny day, and it will be a '15 minute day'.  

Often we become overwhelmed by all the stuff we have to do.  But, I know that I am able to work for 15 minutes, and that can make a big improvement. On a '15 minute day', the day is split into chunks of 15 minutes.  I do one 15 minute task, and at the 15 minutes, I say 'Done'.  It will have been improved, but it might not be complete.  I can always go back and do another 15 minutes later.  After three 15 minute chunks, there's time for a 15 minute rest.

It feels so good to get so much done, and still to have time to play.

My first task has been completed; 'Put a load of white washing in the washing machine'.  I am now about to head into the front garden for a bit of weeding.  

  1. Put white washing in the washing machine
  2. Weeded the front garden
  3. Put away clean dishes and washed dirty dishes
  4. Cleaned window sill and area around sink
  5. Soaked the cooker hob in preparation for cleaning later
  6. More weeding done
  7. Put away dishes, pots and baking trays
  8. Blogged about cleaning and baking
  9. Make oat bread
  10. Made lemon muffins
  11. Hung out washing
  12. More weeding
  13. Tidied sitting room
  14. Did the washing up generated by baking
  15. Kept tidying the sitting room
  16. Brought in clean, dry washing and put it away
  17. Finished the tiding of the sitting room
  18. Collapsed in a pile, then ordered a Chinese takeaway :o)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Poetry in Motion

The buses on the Isle of Man have poetry posters.  This is one that I saw recently and rather enjoyed.

Head Lines 
by Hazel Teare

Is it tidy inside your head?
Have you dusted and made the bed?
Plans neatly stacked like church hall chairs
of where to go and what to wear.
Orderly lines of thoughts and words
or ideas flying free as birds?

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

The basic muffin recipe is very similar to the one in  Muffins - Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer.  This is an excellent book and has many excellent recipes for muffins.  It gives lots of ideas for combinations of flavours.

Makes 12 muffins

250g self-raising flour (Dove Farm Flour for gluten-free)
100g white sugar
1 medium egg
240ml apple juice (or milk)
90ml vegetable oil
125g frozen raspberries
50g white chocolate chips

  1. Prepare muffin tin with paper or silicon muffin cases.  Preheat the oven to 190-200°C.
  2.  Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix, and the wet ingredients (including the raspberries) into a second bowl.  Mix the contents of each bowl.  Ensure that the frozen raspberries  are separated.
  3. Combine the wet with the dry, mixing thoroughly, but working quickly.
  4. Divide the mixture between the 12 cases, and bake for 22-25 minutes.  
  5. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes, and then place on a cooling rack.
The muffins freeze well, but they are best served warm.   They also freeze well.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Using up leftovers

The friend who asked me to make the rainbow prayer shawl loved the colours used, but she does not feel confident in wearing them herself.  Therefore, I am using the leftover yarn to make a little blanket for her. This is a surprise, so don't tell.  ;o)

The first square was made last night, and  I rather like it.  

I was not terribly sure how to proceed and asked for some design help on Ravelry.  My ideas where to make a huge Granny Square, using the colours in rainbow order, or to make a number of small squares (12cm) and attach them.  

MissRain's suggestion was to make a number of small squares, but to cycle the starting colour.  I have greatly admired her multicoloured crochet for quite some time and love the the ways in which she plays with colour.  

This is going to make best use of the differing amounts of the colours of yarn, but it is going to look good!  

Knitting ever onward

A little while ago I finished a single adult bee sock.  This didn't fit the intended recipient correctly.  Making the adaptations required, I have made another adult bee sock which has a much better fit.  Its pair will be made soon.

23.  an adult bee sock

Normally I would start the second sock immediately after the first one was finished, but a deadline was looming.  A friend asked me if I would make a prayer shawl for a friend of hers.  Normally, I wouldn't do this sort of thing, but because of the person who asked, I agreed.  

Knitting, crochet and many crafts consume a lot of hours of work.  This work can be done whilst on the bus, watching television, listening to an audio book and in the times when people are hanging around waiting.  But, it still takes a lot of hours.  For this reason, I only make things for people I like, and only things I know they will love

24. rainbow prayer shawl

A pattern for this shawl will appear shortly.

Monday, May 6, 2013

More items to add to the list

The total stands at 17 finished items.  And now it is time to add in a few more.

18 and 19 - a pair of Colinette socks
20 a Laxey tartan doorstop

21 a single adult bee sock
22 a single baby bee sock

The second baby bee sock is on the needles and will be finished tomorrow.  The adult bee sock will remain single for a little while.  They are being made for a friend, but this first sock didn't fit correctly.  I will need to make a different size, and then I'll come back to this one and make a friend for it.

23 and 24 a couple more drawstring bags.

Wow!  Almost half way through the challenge.  Hooray!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Riotous Baby Blanket

My hands were bored, there was a crochet hook and a ball of yarn.  One thing led to another, and a baby blanket was made.

It is really weird.  I love almost all of the colours in this blanket, from the rich green into the blue,  purple and flowing through to the red.  But I don't like the golden yellow and hate the colour morphing between the yellow and green.  Sadly this means that I don't like the blanket.

But it is the 14th completed project and the 17th item.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two more draw-string bags

I realised at 2.30pm that I hadn't done anything constructive with my day.  There has been pottering around, a bit of this, a bit of that, but nothing to physical to show.

My craft room has all sorts of bits in it, and I made a couple of little draw-string bag.  They were made simply because I could, but I had no idea what to do with them.  And then one started calling softly "I'm a gift bag, suitable for CDs." 

11.  Blue gift bag
12. Second blue gift bag

And the total is now up to 13 projects, 16 finished items, and we are at the beginning of week 16!  I am back on track!  Hooray!

A second thought on '52 in 52'

Time for a list.  Lists make me feel better.
  1. Rubik's Cube
  2. Wizard's false beard
  3. Hereford Helices socks
  4. Reverse stocking stitch socks
  5. Teal cardigan
  6. Purple and black socks
  7. Autumnal striped socks
  8. Rainbow sheep drawstring bag
  9. Black drawstring bag
  10. Rainbow hat
That's ten finished projects in 2013, but 14 finished items (there are two socks in a pair).  At the start of the year I very often count socks as '2' rather than 1 because it helps me feel further on.  Then later in the year when things are flowing, they revert back to 1.  :o)  

Using this logic, there are 14 finished items and 15 weeks have passed since the start of the year.  Perhaps things aren't as dire as they first appeared!

Monday, April 15, 2013

'52 in 52' is proving to be a challenge

As the title says, '52 in 52' is proving to be a challenge.  Here we are, half way through the fourth month, and I have a tiny number of completed projects.

I have been exceptionally good and finished three projects started last year; a teal cardigan, a pair of socks that started out as yoga socks, and a pair of stripy socks.  However, those stripy socks might not have been started last year.  They might have been sitting around, missing a toe for longer than that.  Yes, you read that correctly, I had a pair of socks, only needing a toe to be finished, and still they languished!  

These are good socks!  Not socks to be ignored for months on end!  Here they are:

These socks have now found a new home with Emily.  From the way she was holding them on Sunday, she will love them and look after them well.

The '52 in 52' count was at 4.  :o(  The teal cardigan, the purple socks and these beautiful socks bring it up to 7.  Also completed are two drawstring bags, bring it up to 9.

As a total, that isn't too bad!  It could be a lot better, but.... Oh, and there is a hat that I ripped back and re-knitted!  That's 10.  Double digits!