Monday, 20 October 2014

Me on Monday

It was a homes and gardens projects weekend here. A plan to cut the lawn for the last time this year was scuppered when the lawn mower decided that it had had enough, fizzled and died. A plan to redecorate the downstairs toilet (2 years after the first 'shall we redo the loo' thought was voiced) ended up with a couple of trips to the local Homebase store. It was a wallpaper ordering, paint purchasing,  lawnmower buying, wallpaper stripping, tile removing, patchwork quilt squares cutting, dog walking, slow roast shoulder of pork cooking, panettone bread and butter pudding baking kind of weekend. 

So I've done my half day at work, and have to go back again later for 'safeguarding' training (which always upsets me when we have to discuss true case studies of at risk children) and just to make this Monday even less enjoyable, I have an afternoon with this ...

Because I cannot put off the evil task of clearing the ironing pile any longer. Unless I look to see if there's a puppy that's in need of a walk ... 

How's your Monday shaping up? I think that instead of just waving to Sian who organised the Me on Monday idea, I'm going to pop round and visit to see if any of her secret recipe fudge/tablet is left.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Bake off memories and a recipe

I'm already missing the Great British Bake Off (for those outside the UK, it's a cookery programme with 12 amateur cooks being challenged to bake cakes, breads and pastries with one person being sent home at the end of each week).  My English teacher at school always told us to never use 'nice' in a story.  We always had to find another word, but 'nice' exactly sums up the ethos of the programme.  There's no back-biting, no one saying anything unpleasant about the other contestants and the worst controversy was somone removing an icecream out of a freezer or using someone else's custard!
So because I am missing it, I've been baking myself.  Let me share what I've been making - my version of Mary Berry's cherry cake.  I can't use her recipe because her cake tin is way bigger than mine and if you do try it, you will end up with an overflowing tin and enough mixture to make a dozen cupcakes too.  Mine involves a 21cm ring tin and it ends up looking like this:
Are you ready?  Then rifle through your cupboards and get your ingredients out:
200g glace cherries
180g self raising flour
100g Stork margarine or similar (Mary will, of course be using butter!)
100g caster sugar
25g ground almonds
2 large eggs
1 lemon
120g icing sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and prepare your tin.  You need to grease the inside of your tin.  As I'm on Slimming World at the moment (yes you are still allowed cake!) I have cans of Fry Light for cooking and they are fab to grease cake tins as you can get a good light spray all over. Just be careful to use the sunflower one or the olive oil one.  BBQ or garlic flavour will not enhance your cake!
Rinse your cherries under water and dry.  Put about 4 aside for decoration and cut the others into quarters.  Put them in a bowl with a tablespoon of flour and make sure they are all coated.  Mary would tell you that this stops them sinking through the cake mixture and all ending up in one end of the cake.
Cream the margarine and sugar together until the mixture is soft, then add the eggs, almonds, flour and grated rind of the lemon.  It will be quite a firm mixture but don't worry, that's how it should be.  Stir in the chopped cherries.  Spoon the mixture into the tin, spread it evenly and put in oven for about 30 mins.  Check it at 25 mins just in case your oven cooks hotter than mine.  At this point you can crouch on the floor, peering into the oven door, watching it gently brown, just like they do in the programme.  If it's golden brown all over, firm to touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean, it's done. 
Don't be too keen to remove it from the tin.  Ring cakes need to be treated with respect, or they will refuse to come out in one piece and you're left with a cake of two halves.  (What makes you think this is the voice of experience talking?) So let it cool down for about 5 - 10 mins, gently run a knife around the outer and the inner edge, then cross your fingers, hold your breath and turn it out onto a cooling tray.  And breathe.  It's out and ready to cool down to decorate.
Have you waited until the cake is quite cool?  OK, you're ready to go.  Mix the juice of the lemon into the icing sugar and gently pour the icing over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides.  Remember where you put those reserved cherries?  Go and get them, cut them in half and add around the top. 
Stand back and admire your finished work of art.  Can you wait until the icing is properly set?  No, me neither, let's put the kettle on and while the tea's brewing we'll have a slice.  Thank goodness Paul Hollywood can't see the state of my kitchen, he'd be giving me the glare.  You know the one. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Me on Monday - Take Two

Don't you just love blogger? You start a post, you save a post, you edit a post, you save the edits, you open the post again and it's gone.  So, with gritted teeth and a determined smile I bring you Me on Monday - again.

Monday sees two of the family with clean, freshly styled fur. There's me
And there's you know who 

It's really horrible here today, rain, rain and oh look, it's still raining.  How was your weekend? Ours was relaxed. We were out Friday night until 1am and I'm far too old for late nights/early mornings, it took ages to get my act together on Saturday. But then there were hair cuts, shopping trips, Strictly Come Dancing watching, debates about whether or not Donny Osmond has had Botox (probably) and if he either dyes his hair or wears a wig (definitely one, possibly the other), lazy Sunday lunches with prosecco, choosing a design for the next friendship quilt block, making it, realising it was slightly too small and having to make another, and finishing my book. (Until you're mine by Samantha Hayes. Wow! What a page turner!)

Giving a big wave to Sian who had the great idea to share Me on Monday posts. Are you doing one too? Why not? Pah! That's no excuse. Stop what you're doing, take a quick photo, share it on your blog and join in. In the famous words of Take That 'it only takes a minute ...'

Friday, 10 October 2014

One photo and twenty words

Me wearing trainers and joggers on a Thursday night means I've run out of excuses not to go to Fitsteps.
Giving a wave to Abi who organised this monthly meme, along with my apologies for being a day late!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Topless in a car park

Also known as Me on Monday, the brain child of Sian.
It's Monday:
Yes I was topless in a car park.
Yes it was chilly.
Yes it was for a good reason.

I don't know if it's the same where you live but in this area women are called for breast screening every 3 years once you get to 50.  There is a specialist hospital north of here that sends mobile units out to local hospitals. They park in the car park and inside it's a fully functioning x ray department.  We did have a light hearted discussion at work where I said that as they have building works going on there at the moment, I hoped I wouldn't accidentally wander into a workman's porta cabin to strip off! Do you see the notice on the side of the door asking gentlemen to stay outside? That's a clue that I was in the right place!

Did you have a good weekend? Autumn arrived here for sure this weekend. Saturday was cold, wet and miserable but yesterday was bright and sunny although certainly there was a chill in the air. For us it was a Turn the central heating on, crack on with the sewing of the new quilt, buy some spring flowering bulbs to plant, discover evidence of a mouse in the garage, Strictly Come Dancing watching, son discovering a puncture in his car tyre, too much football on the tv kind of weekend.

Pop over to Sian and see what she has been up to. Better still - share a Me on Monday post too!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Me on Monday ~16

I had a parcel delivered today. An order that I made on Friday has arrived super-quick. if I'd known it was being delivered today I'd have left work much earlier and driven home much quicker!  As you can see, my photo for today's Me on Monday involves much stroking of lovely fabric ready to make a new quilt. 

As the evenings have got a little darker a little quicker, and the temperatures have dropped a little lower and my fingers have crept a little closer to the central heating controls, the quilts that I keep in the lounge are getting a lot of use.  I like to snuggle underneath one in the evenings, so does my daughter and the dog seems to think that anything soft is fair game as a cushion for her.  So I saw this lovely fabric over at Hulu Crafts website and next thing you know, an order had been made
How was your weekend?  We had a really relaxing time and it was nice not to have anything in particular to do.  It really was a furniture shop browsing, new doormat buying, staircase painting, homemade Thai green curry cooking, Strictly Come Dancing watching, new quilt planning, falling asleep after Sunday lunch kind of couple of days. 
And here we are at Monday again, giving up a wave to Sian, whose idea 'Me on Monday' was originally. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Do come in, sit down and make yourself comfortable.  Kettle's just boiled and there's some cake in the tin, let's have a slice - or two! Funny how I'm inspired to do more cake baking at the time of The Great British Bake Off, and yes, this is Mary Berry's cherry ring cake.

As you can see, the dining table/craft table is a bit messy which shows that there is a new project underway!  Let me explain ... Part of my job is to help compile the school newsletter.  This term's edition is an interesting one as the students who went on overseas trips in the summer holidays write up their experiences.  There are two big trips: one to our partner school in Uganda and one to Cambodia.  Both are life changing experiences as the sixth formers help in schools and orphanages, build houses, help dig wells and all manner of things to help improve the lives of those who live in the villages where they stay.  One of the teachers who went with them to Cambodia is a textiles teacher and she wrote an article for the newsletter about a charity project she is working on with her Year 10 Textiles students.  They are making dresses for Dress a girl around the world and their dresses will be going to the village in Cambodia where our students stayed this summer. 
Can you imagine only having one dress?  Can you imagine the pride you would feel when wearing that dress?  How very special that dress would be to you?  We take so much for granted don't we?  In their words - Imagine a world where every girl owned at least one dress.  Imagine if that dress were made by you.  Please do click on the link and read about the work that is being done. 
I hardly need tell you what my project is do I?  I am going to be making a dress to give to the teacher organising the project because I love to think of how happy receiving that dress will make a girl somewhere in Cambodia. I've made the basic dress, now I just need to make a pretty pocket.  I'm thinking white with a red frill along the top, what do you think?

Linking up with Abi to share a cup of tea on the 27th of each month. Yes, I'm a day late!