Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Treats

A couple of Pinterest ideas made in nom-nom form.

Monday, December 12, 2016

And so to bed!

Whew! That's another section done! This time in my bedroom.

On Sunday I split the bedroom into seven section, with the idea of doing one section a day for a week. This would result in a very tidy, clean bedroom Two sections have been completed. This makes me very happy.

During the 52 week challenge I sorted through a lot of clothes and did some serious decluttering in the bedroom. This hasn't stopped a load of stuff accumulating though. As I was moving things around I realised that four of the boxes were things belonging to my daughter. I think they are items she no longer wants, but I'd rather she gave them another look over when she is home for Christmas. I would hate to be getting rid of treasured items.

One of the boxes is full of things to be donated to a charity shop. We shall attend to this on Saturday. The rest is crafting materials seeking a home. For the moment, that home will be in my study. After Christmas, I will need to get into the study and declutter in there too.

What do I use, what do I need?

Whilst thinking, planning and designing the new house, I have been stopping and pondering what I actually need, and what I use. My conclusion is 'a whole heap less stuff than I have!'

I'm going to list all of the the household items I have used. This will help with the planning and design. It makes sense to ensure there's a sensible place for everything that is used regularly. It also means that at the end of a period I can get rid of things that are not used.

Here's the things I have used today, assembled in a useful sort of manner.

bedroom: bed, bed linens, duvet, pillows, bath towel, hand towel
electronics: Kindle, laptop, phone, phone charger
kitchen: cooker, frying pan, wooden spoon, veggie chopping knife, chopping board, fridge, plate, mug, kettle, larder, sink, draining board, utensils storage, cutlery storage, recycling boxes, towel

Back on the Wagon

A while back I started a challenge to declutter my house in 52 weeks. My thinking was that even if it only 'stuck' for a few weeks then it leave me in a better state. It stuck for a couple of months, and things (most especially in the kitchen) improved.

By and large, the areas decluttered have remained decluttered and organised. However, the pantry (ambient food storage cupboard) didn't get done. Yesterday evening, I made a start on it. There's 6 shelves, and two of them have been decluttered.

I called The Beloved and The Offspring to come have a look at my wonderful decluttering ability, and in the space of 8 minute another two shelves were done! Those were the two high ones, the ones I can't reach. I've no idea what I'm going to put in that space. Hmm... here's a random thought! Do I need to put anything in that space?!


It appears the answer is "Yes!". In decluttering the lower two shelves I moved things around a bit. There's now a shelf for gluten-containing foods, eg pasta and breakfast cereals. There's also a shelf for non-gluten starches, eg gf breakfast cereal, rice, lentils, pasta, and rice noodles. Thankfully, all of the shelves are only half the normal depth of kitchen cupboards. I can store things on the front of the second highest shelf, as long as the items are at the front. The top shelf (which I can't reach unless I stand on something) now has paper napkins, paper plates, and plastic cutlery. If it's not used within 3 months it's going out.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Cake

The cake is made to a recipe my Mam has been cooking for 55 years, a very tasty, rich, dark, moist fruit cake. It's dense and juicy, with the cake part being a matrix to hold all of the fruit in place. The cake was marzipan-ed, then iced using fondant.  The holly and ivy were made from a mix of flower paste and fondant. The leaves were glued in place using royal icing, and the berries were also made from royal icing. 'Noel' was created by pressing in an embosser whilst the white fondant was still very soft. Later when the fondant had dried, Noel was painted using powdered food dye/pigment mixed with alcohol. (The alcohol evaporates very quickly, leaving behind the pigment.) A little Scani-inspired ribbon finished it off.

This cake will donated to a local charity that works with elderly people, providing friendship, lunch clubs, social activities, etc.

Christmas Cake recipe

175g butter
175g sugar
225g plain flour (I used Dove Farm's gluten-free flour)
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
700g mixed fruit
1 Tsp ground almonds
1 Tsp rich dark treacle

Oven temps: 180C and 150C

Cream the butter and sugar. Sieve the flour, baking powder and spice together. Beat the eggs. Add the flour and eggs to the butter and cream, a little at a time, alternating. Add the almonds and treacle. The bake in a lined tin. Bake at 180C for 1 hour, then at 150C for 2 hours.

This quantity makes a 20cm round cake, about 10cm high.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Designing a kitchen

Over the last few months I have been thinking about a house for the next stage in my life, a time when there's just two of us.

My current thinking is to have a great room (sitting room, dining room and kitchen) about 6m x 12m. The kitchen will be along one of the short walls, and a kitchen island on lockable casters.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cake Decorating Classes

I've been going to cake decorating classes, and here's a couple of cakes (and a penguin) I have made at home.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cake Decorating

C and I have enrolled in cake decorating classes. Last night was our first class, and it was great fun. People were there to learn, and to have fun whilst do so.

A neighbour is coming round for tea at 5-ish today. We have decided to make some biscuits and to use our new royal icing skills to decorate them.

The recipe I'm using for the biscuits is:

50g butter (soft)
75g caster sugar
1 medium eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
250g gluten-free plain flour
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder


1.  Preheat oven to 180C.
2.  Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla.
3.  Add the flour and baking powder.
4.  When the mixture has come together, chill for 10 minutes.
5.  Gently kneed the dough, then roll out to 1cm thick.
6.  Use cutters, and place biscuits on baking sheet.
7.  Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown.

As usual, my attempts at following a recipe weren't spot on. The royal icing I made earlier used 2 and a bit egg whites. I combined the 3 egg yolks and the left over egg white and substituted them for 2 whole eggs. The rest of the ingredients were doubled. The mixture was split into two, and two heaped dessert spoons of Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate were added to one of the batches.

The chocolate dough was a bit dry, and the vanilla one a bit too soft. I cut out the vanilla biscuits, and then combined the leftovers into the chocolate dough. This gave a much better texture to the chocolate dough.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mini-holiday mutterings

The start of September is always busy for me at work, and then there's a little breather immediately afterwards.  Yesterday and today are days of in lieu of hours already worked.  Then there's the weekend to contend with, and my usual Monday off.  :o)  Five days in a row with nothing I must do.  It is glorious.  Actually, the weather was glorious yesterday, and it's rather fantastic today.

My wrist is a great deal better than it was back in July, and I'm able to do short stretched of crafting again.  I'm trying to be sensible and not do too much at any one time, and it seems to be paying off.

A while back I started heading off to bed about and hour before I planned on going to sleep.  I would get ready for bed, and then sit and craft whilst listening to an audio book.  This is a fantastic way to ready the body for sleep, a nice, soft gentle way to relax.  

When I started doing this my sleep improved dramatically.  Not being able to craft (due to the damaged tendons in my wrist) had an impact on my sleep.  Whilst I am not up to my previously length of time spent crafting, just entering the routine again has brought benefits to my sleep.

As well as crafting - a Granny Square blanket from sock yarn, I went into town to help C select new frames for glasses.  There was a special offer, and one pair is pure Harry Potter!  We also headed out to "Boards and Brews", a board game cafe.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Graduation Photographs

Hannah graduated with a BA Hons in Jewellery Design.  Here she is with fellow jewellers and contemporary design people.

More graduation photographs will follow when they have been downloaded and then uploaded.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


What does a new graduate need?  A bear of course.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tin foil hat time!

Oh boys!  Not being able to knit, crochet, cook or bake is taking its toll.  I've painted, drawn, and today was the day to make a tin foil hat with a rather fetching feather.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hot, hot, hot!

Oh my! Hereford is hot. It reached 33.3 today. This is too hot for a little bear.

At lunch time I was looking for an idea of what to paint with my new paint set. I was advised to paint some that would make me happy. This is it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Experiments with posting from my Kindle

I've never attempted to post from my Kindle.  Will it work?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flat Out Missing!

During TT, one of the Isle of Man Constabulary officers went missing.  He simply disappeared!

PC Flat has done sterling work in the past, helping to remind people to slow down!  A plea was put out for information on PC Flat's whereabouts.  It appears that he might well have been Shanghaied by some Royal Navy sailors who had been helping as medics during the TT Races.  The local Constabulary are hoping PC Flat will be returning in around 11 months, having had a tour of duty with Royal Navy.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Manx Pie

A little pie I made today.

The filling was made from a tub of cranberries, the remnants of a tub of raspberries, a couple of apples, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and a metric tonne of sugar!  (That might be an exaggeration.)

The pastry contained 100g plain flour (Dove Farm), 75g SR flour (Dove farm), 100g butter, 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cold water.  The butter was rubbed into the flours, and then the sugar was mixed in.  Then the dough was brought together with the egg yolk and water.  It's a pretty sticky dough.  This was popped in the fridge to cool.  The stickiness decreases during this time.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Granny loves rainbows

My yarn stash is continuing to shrink. More yarn is being consumed by projects than is being bought! This is a glorious state of affairs. My running total for 'balls used up or given away' for this year is 84.

A few baby items have been made using a lilac merino (hat, bootees, cardigan and snuggly blankie). I played it so the yarn would be totally used up. There was about 20cm left over at the end! Then, I discovered I had previously knitted a baby cardigan in the lilac too. It was a cardigan in need of cuffs, welts and button band. And, I had just used up all of the lilac merino. Cue a trip to my stash to see if there was anything I could use to finish it off. Of course there was!

The second lilac cardigan was finished with a crocheted cream border, and second border in a beautiful rainbow yarn. This resulted in a completed cardigan, and a hook in my hand. I started crocheting again.

About 8 years ago I made a baby blanket from the same yarns:

And I am going for a repeat performance.  

Last time round, I ran into a number of problems and the blanket sat in the naught corner for a good few months until my Mammy came to visit and took pity on it.

I have been learning my lessons. The first is than on a project with lots of ends, weave them in as you go. Some people like weaving in ends - I am most definitely not one of them! The second lesson is to crochet the squares together as you go - definitely do not sew.

The blanket above was made of 42 squares (6x7) and proved to be a good, useful size.

The yarns being used are King Cole Merino Mix, and Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sock in Child's Play. Both are 4ply, and I'm using a 3.5mm hook.

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Calendar Quilt

Overnight, I've thought about losing the leaf point. And, I've decided that it doesn't really bother me. Autumn leaves are not perfect. Neither is mine. 

With regards to colour, my plan is to have at least one colour in each block repeated in another block. The penguin belly is the background to the heart. The yellow background, and the orange from the penguin’s feet will form part of the daffodil. Leaves from the daffodil will be used in the Christmas tree. Not every fabric will be repeated elsewhere, but one of the fabrics in the block will. This will hopefully give the quilt continuity across the months/blocks.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 Calendar Quilt - October

The block for October has been done.  The choice of design was made by The Beloved.

There is a rule of quilting, "Don't point out your mistakes!"  I'm going to break that rule, but simply because this was the first bit of American paper piecing I have tried.  The longest leaf point should have a bit of yellow at the tip.  I forgot to leave a border on my patchwork, and things got a little silly.

I'm debating re-doing it.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stash Diving

These were actually the first finished items of 2016.  They used up several balls of stash yarn.

(5 finished projects, and 6 balls of stash used up)

Hat-a-thon 2016

This is the 4th or 5th year I have had a hat-a-thon.  The aim is to make 26 hats within the space of a month, a marathon of hats.  A few of the hats end up with family and friends, but the majority are donated to charities.

A couple of days ago I learned a group on the Island are looking for hats for babies and children.  These will be given to refugees on the mainland of Europe.  The collection date is 3 weeks away, so I don't know if I will be able to complete the hat-a-ton in that time, but I'll give it a good go.  

Here's hats 1 and 2.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Calendar Quilt - January

And here is the January block for the Calendar Quilt.

2016 Calendar Quilt - February

One of the hazards of being a Time Lord is that life doesn't always follow in chronological order as seem from the standpoint of a neutral observer.  This explains why the February block was the first one to be completed.  Either that, or it was a nice simple one to get me started.  February is a simple appliqu├ęd heart.  

The blocks will each be 12" (finished size).

The Mighty Squibs

The Mighty Squibs have swum passed Bray Hill, taken a right turn at the Quarterbridge Roundabout, on through Union Mills, Glen Vine, Crosby, Greeba Castle, and on to Greeba Bridge.  This is just over 6 miles in 11 days! We are definitely on course for finishing those 37.5 miles before Easter.

Huzzah and puppy snuggles.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Swimming the TT

I am a sucker for challenges.  This is so true.  Fe challenged me to take part in 'Swim the TT' or as it properly called, TT Swim Challenge 2016.  The TT circuit is 37.5 miles long, and a team of four of us is going to swim its length. 
Depending on when the challenge started, which might be this year, or today, I have either swum 1.1miles (1.8km) or 0.62miles (1km).  I so hope it is the first! 

Resolutions - it's a new year after all

Last year, I took the Cold Sheep challenge.  I didn't buy any yarn for a year.  The total amount of yarn in the house became smaller as I was knitting and crocheting from stash. However, my general productivity decreased.  Out goes the 'no new yarn' mantra and in comes the idea that I can 'earn' the right to buy new yarn.  When I use up 100g of yarn I can then buy 50g of new woolly goodness.  So far this year I have crocheted 1x 50g ball of delightful alpaca.  But this isn't my resolution.

I've started work on 52 Weeks To An Organized Home.  Last week was the first challenge (I like challenges): Kitchen counters and sink.  Stuff that had accumulated in the kitchen was found new homes, or put in the bin.  Electrical gadgets that aren't used every day were relocated to the pantry shelves. The cleaning supplies and DIY stuff were moved to the laundry.The electrical gadgets are close to the kitchen, very accessible, but tucked away, giving clear counter tops. 

This week, the challenge is: Kitchen drawers and cabinets.  This is a large task, a very large one.  Looking over future challenges, there will be weeks when I have nothing to do, eg attic, basement, garage, 'back to school' etc.  Therefore, I'm going to split this challenge over this week and next.  This week is drawers - we have 6 kitchen drawers.  I can comfortably clean, tidy, sort and declutter one drawer a day. 

Today was the light bulb drawer. Also in the drawer are some screwdrivers, a ball of string and keys to various windows and the back door.  I've no idea why there's a drawer for light bulbs, screwdrivers, keys and string in the kitchen!  But that's were they are.  My inclination is for them to be in the laundry/utility room with the rest of the tools.  That room needs a good sorting out though.  If I just start dumping things in there it will turn into a complete and utter mess, rather than the partial mess it is just now.  The laundry room's turn will come at the end of February.  I'll hang on until then.

Next week will be the turn of the cabinets.  The other challenges will be off-set a week until I get to 'coupons'.  That's one I won't be doing.  But this 52 week organisation isn't my resolution either.

My actual resolution is to make my bed every day!  Yup, that's it.  Nice and simple.  It's a habit I want to instill in myself, and it's working.  I've managed 10 days of making my bed.  But's it's the 11th!  Not a problem, I'm just about to go change the sheets, and I'll make up my fresh, new bed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas 2015

A couple of quilted items from Christmas 2015.

A Nightmare before Christmas quilt:


And the reverse:

A Christmas Trees table runner.  There is a little gold star at the top of each tree.