Thursday 31 January 2013

January Giveaway

This is my last blog as "Artist of the month" over on the Bead Buddies Forum.  It's a pity really as I have so many projects very nearly finished, that I wanted to share, but they will have to just be blogged about as they are completed  :)

Well, I said that this year I would do a giveaway at the end of every month.

The January giveaway will be a necklace from my "Sprite Collection".  This collection was made whilst on holiday in Marrakesh way back in January 2011.  We flew out there on New Years Eve, I started the collection at Manchester Airport, continued it on the plane and did bits on the hotel balcony every afternoon.

So this is what is on offer, a pretty pink beaded flower on a St Petersburg chain.  It is finished with a beaded toggle clasp. No metal parts.

I will use a random name generator to pick the winner on Sunday 3rd February.

If you would like to enter all you have to do is either comment on this blog or pop on over to my Facebook Page, find this post and pop a comment on there.

Good luck  :)


Following on from yesterdays blog where I showed you my home-made Pea, Mint & Mushroom risotto.

As stated the recipe serves two people, and as also stated I was the only one eating it so there was half of it leftover.

Decided to make arancini, which is basically little balls of rice with something in the middle - mozzarella cheese in this case.

I beat up an egg, mixed it in with the risotto mixture then formed it into a ball around a lump of mozzerella.  It was very messy and needed some good squashing to keep them nicely rounded.

Then I rolled them in breadcrumbs and fried them until golden brown on all sides.

I served it with a sauce made from some chopped tomatoes, with extra chilli and herbs, which complimented them perfectly.

Nom nom, will definitely make these again.

Look at the lovely melty cheese in the middle  :)

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Pea, Mint & Mushroom Risotto

Really fancied a Risotto tonight, so after sending Shona to Morrisons for supplies I made myself one  :)

No one else wanted it, Shona & Marie wanted Toad In The Hole, Andrew had Mini Kievs (his naughty filthy junk food vice).  Risotto for one it was.

As I hardly ever follow a recipe, or if I do I only use it as a rough guide and end up adapting it quite heavily, I thought I should write it down just in case I fancied making it again, as it was rather tasty.  Quite healthy too as I had no Parmesan (veggie version of course).

Here we go then, you will need:  (Serves 2)

  • A pile of mushrooms
  • Half a 500g box of Riso Gallo risotto rice
  • Peas (as many as you like)
  • Dried Mint
  • Crushed Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Small single serve bottle of white wine
  • 1 litre of veggie stock
What you do:
  • In a really good non-stick pan heat up a little olive oil, fry the garlic and mushrooms until soft, then pour the whole lot, including the juices, into a dish for later.
  • Add a little more olive oil into the same pan and stir fry the rice until golden.
  • Have a mouthful of the wine and pour the rest into the pan, stirring until it absorbs.
  • Add a ladle of stock to the pan, along with a good sprinkle of dried mint and the peas.  Allow to absorb.
  • Everytime the rice absorbs the stock, add another ladleful. 
  • Repeat until all the stock has gone - around 20 mins, and the rice is nice and tender, but not soggy soft.
  • Finally chuck in the pot of mushrooms, garlic and mushroom juice and stir.
  • Give it a good shake of freshly ground black pepper and enjoy.

Lime & Choc Bracelet WINNER IS.....

Remember this little offer?

Well I was going to use a random name generator but as there is just one person interested I am not sure it would work too well  :)

Therefore the winner is ...... (Drum Roll).......ALLY !!  Email me your postal address Ally and I will pop this in the post to you.

If you forgot, or simply didn't fancy this piece, do keep checking back because this year at the end of each and every month I am going to do a little giveaway.  It might be something from my blog that month, or perhaps from my stash of work already done.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Beadweaving at Hobbycraft

On Monday I held a little beginners beadweaving class at Hobbycraft in Carlisle.

The stitch was Peyote stitch.

My demo piece was rainbow bright while the ladies chose a more demure black and white colourway.

It went well, and they did great.

Next month we will master the 'Spiral Staircase' stitch.

Egg-free Cookies

Last time I made fruit cream cookies  (  I got a little sad face staring back at me.  Marie, my DIL2B  (work that one out ;) )  is allergic to eggs and of course there was egg in my cookies.

So I promised to make her some egg free ones.  The mixture I use (with the egg) works quite well, so I thought all I needed to do was to swap the egg for something else that would bind the mix.  Checking out my cupboards I had a tin of condensed milk and a jar of syrup.

I decided on the syrup and added a couple blobs, mixing it in well.

Now, how much would they spread when cooking?  Not too much as it happens, but they did have to be a good golden brown otherwise they were a bit chewy.

I sandwiched them together with all three of these yummy icing pots, made with real fruit juice.

Want the recipe?

  • 6oz golden caster sugar
  • 8oz margarine
  • 12oz self raising flour
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
Beat the sugar and butter together well, chuck in flour and syrup and mix well until fully blended.

Pile onto a greasproof paper lined tray in conker sized blobs, leaving room for a little spreading.

Bake at Gas 4 for around 20 mins, until golden brown.

Leave to cool on the tray, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sandwich with fruity icing then dust with icing sugar.

As I sandwich the cookies I make this amount otherwise you only end up with about 9 portions. (No good in my sweet-toothed family)

Shona reckons they taste like flapjacks without the oats - must be the syrup.  They are rather sweet though, so not for the faint-hearted  :)

Monday 28 January 2013

Granny Cushion

This cushion cover is made from scrap wool, in fact yarns given as free gifts on "The Art Of Crochet" magazine.  They are just tiny balls and not enough to make anything with, but the colours were so complimentary to each other I just had to make something pretty with them.

I did 9 squares, using all 6 colours but in random order.

Then I edged it all to make it fit the ready made cushion cover that I had purchased.

It took ages to tack the crochet onto the pad!  I made sure it was tacked in lots of places so it would be secure when leaned against.

Then, of course, I stuffed it, with a nice fat cushion pad.

Sorry about the slightly blurry photo.

It will be on the new crochet display in Carlisle Hobbycraft very soon.  :)

Chocolate & Lime Giveaway

A little giveaway for you.

Hand-made beadwoven bracelet in a milk chocolate and zesty lime colourway.

A fringed band topped with sparkling lime flowers and finished with 3 lime AB glass hearts that pass through a loop to fasten.

No metal pieces at all within this piece.

Would you like it?

If so you can let me know in a few different ways.  Either comment on this post within Blogger, comment in the Chatterbox in the Bead Buddies Forum, or look for the Chocolate & Lime Giveaway thread  on my Facebook page and pop a comment in there.

I will gather up all the names, pop them into a random name generator on Wednesday and it will pick a winner for me.  Everyone can enter  :)

Good luck.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Yellow Bits

My cats eat Whiskas dried food and a few months ago they changed the recipe, removing the "yellow bits" which I believe are cheesy.  Millie is most upset, she loved her yellow bits (and she loved Charlie's yellow bits too!)  So I wrote to Whiskas on her behalf:

Dear Whiskas,

WHERE are my yellow bits?  Every night when my servants put down my food bowl I look for my yellow bits, but they are not there.   I stare for a while to make sure, then I stare at my servant and Meow loudly - "where are my yellow bits?", but he shakes his head and tells me there are no more yellow bits.   I walk away in disgust.

I love yellow bits, I always eat the yellow bits first, then I make the servant's other cat Professor Charlie Babbit swap bowls and I eat his yellow bits too, then I might nibble at the other bits.  Apparently it took my servants a long time to find a food that I would eat as I am hand-reared and supposedly quite fussy.  Now they are concerned as I am not eating my dinner, but why would I when there are no yellow bits?

Please bring back my yellow bits, life is just not the same without them.

Yours sincerely,

Millicent Moo (aka Millie)

This morning we picked up a parcel from the Post Office depot, the lady behind the counter was quite amused  :)

And a letter addressed to Millicent Moo.

It reads:

Meow Millicent Moo

I am sorry to hear how dissapointed you are with out new recipe mix.

We are always striving to provide the best meals for cats, ensuring it is nutritionally complete and delicious.

We have been making some improvements to the recipe and as part of the development we removed the pocket kibble as we found a new imporved kibble mix that would deliver all of your nutritional needs. It would appear that out of all the kibbles the pocket kibbles was your favourite.

Some cats were only eating these but leaving the other shapes, which meant that they weren't getting a full, balanced diet.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us please be assured when we make any changes to recipes we always have the cats best interest in mind.

If you need any more help or advice, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Lots of purrs and meows.

On the front of the parcel was a letter addressed to us, it read:

Dear Servants,

This letter is only to be read by you, please don't let Millicent Moo see!

She emailed Whiskas to ask what we have done with the pocket kibble from our Whiskas Dry Complete.

It would appear that out of all the kibbles the pocket kibble Millicent Moo's favourite, it may be worth trying to soak the new kibble mix to enhance the smell of the food.

We also make Whiskas Temptations which are very similar to the pocket kibbles, however, they are intended as a treat only, so please only feed a few at a time. Let us warn you, keep them somewhere safe, cats really love their Temptations and we heard many tales from owner of cats doing almost anything to get their paws on them.

Although you can add Whiskas Temptations to the food, there is no need to do so and please remember that they are intended as a treat only, so it is important to encourage your cat to eat the other biscuits in their bowl so they get the complete and balanced meal they need.

Please find enclosed a tub of these for Millicent Moo.

She got a whole pot full of yellow bits  :)

Of which she was allowed a few, and she enjoyed them thoroughly.

Yay for Whiskas !

Thursday 24 January 2013


Today's post is a reflective post.

Today I went to see a good friend who lives in Lockerbie.  In fact, she lives on Sherwood Crescent in Lockerbie, the very street that was the landing place of most of the Pan-Am Flight 103 that came down in December 1988.

I always take a deep breath of reflection as I drive into Sherwood Crescent  I remember the sad day and the days that followed very well.

I was 20 years old and working at The Crest Hotel which is now a Premier Inn situated on J44 of the M6.
I heard on the news about the plane crash and like most people, was shocked that something so bad could happen so close  - just 23 miles away.

The next day I went to work as usual.  I worked as a breakfast waitress from 7am-11am.  A nice simple job, served breakfast, went home and had the rest of the day to myself.  Only this morning was different.  The hotel had been taken over and was now a headquarters for all sorts of organisations that were to be connected with the plane crash.  This was the largest hotel close to the scene that could accommodate lots of people, computers (huge things in big black cases), it had plenty of meeting rooms and be a main meeting point.  It was closed off to the general public, those that had been staying were moved out to nearby hotels.

It was never asked that any staff should work extra to take care of the many many people that started filling the hotel, all those meeting rooms needed coffee, food, coffee, food, coffee as the hours rolled by.  All the staff stayed on without being requested to and without question.  My hours changed to 7am - 11pm, grabbing breaks when we could.  We were all shattered.

But we were also invisible   Those people in the meeting rooms forgot we were there, they carried on talking and we couldn't help but overhear.  The snippets of grizzly information were sobering. Shocking.  Disturbing.  We would push in a trolley full of coffee cups and walk out with our stomach doing backflips.   It was all very real, and we were very much amongst it.

It was a quick lesson to learn to train your eye away from flip boards and photos stuck upon the walls, hearing stuff was bad enough, but seeing things was much worse.

I left shortly after, things just were never the same.  I got a job in a cafe in town where I stayed for years.

RIP to the 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people of Lockerbie that died that day. I will always remember you when I drive into Sherwood Crescent.

My Mother still says we should have had counselling....

I have "tightchainitis"

Sounds scary doesn't it?

Well, the blanket I am crocheting - the ripple blanket, you can find the pattern HERE - isn't going to plan.

I know the issue, the chain edge is too tight, it is pulling all the rest out of shape.

I added a fill in row (even though you don't really do this until the end) to see if it would help straighten it out....  but it didn't.  You can see the top is much tighter than the bottom.

Was I really gonna have to pull it out and start again?

I wondered if a bigger hook to do the foundation chain would work and after a bit of Googleing decided that it would.

So, deep breath, and begin....... 1,2,3,4,5.....224 chain stitches later with a bigger hook and things seem to be working out.

Watch this space  (again!!)

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Hobbycraft & Eden Valley Hospice

As part of the Hobbycraft Outreach programme, myself and Laura found ourselves at Eden Valley House, which is the child's part of our local hospice.

Hobbycraft supports the charity "Together for short lives" so has a close relationship with the Hospice.

A very large decopatch (7 foot high) tree was donated, along with the glues, brushes and papers to decorate it.  Laura and I went along to show them how to decopatch it (the art of glueing bits of paper to a mache form).

First the branches have to be inserted and patched into place with lots of glue and brown paper, then the decorative tissue paper can be applied.

We didn't put the whole tree together as the hospice are going to split the decorating of it in-between the children's house and the adult day-care section, so we shall go back at a later date and help them finish it off.

Can't wait to see it finished.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Rag Rug Club

Today was the bi-weekly meeting of the Rag Rug Club I attend. It is held at Upperby Institute in Carlisle as part of the U3A (University Of The Third Age) and ran by a lovely lady called Judith Harrison who makes the most wonderful rugs, you can see her work HERE.  I don't get there very often nowadays due to work shifts, but when I have spare time I do like to go and catch up with everyone.

I am half way through two rugs at the moment, a proddy style fleece one with a traditional pattern,

and a latch hook one that I picked up from Hobbycraft.  (Haven't taken a photo of this one yet)

Only, today, I took my crocheting  :)

But let me show you some of the other members amazing work.

Monday 21 January 2013

Jewellery making at Hobbycraft

Tonight I did a beginners jewellery making class at Hobbycraft.

It was an earring class and we spent two hours designing, making and showing off our earrings  :)

The ladies seemed to have loads of fun, and it was quite a lively, chatty night - just how I like it!

If you are following my crochet wavy blanket then you will be pleased to hear that I have now received the lilac yarn I ordered and I have added it into the blanket.

A nice dark pink next  :)