Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Now these lavender cupcakes featured in my last post and Pink Purl asked me for the recipe so here we are:
150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
1 teaspn baking powder
3 large eggs
a couple of tiny spriggs of lavender (just the flowers stipped off the stalks)
Mix everything in a food processor if you have one or a mixer or by hand and put in large muffin cases (this quantity makes 12 good size cakes) and bake at 175 C or Gas 4 for 20 - 25 mins - probably less for fan ovens.
When cool, ice with lavender coloured icing - I used Squire's Violet food paste and just an absolute smidgen. Top with a tiny flower of lavender and there you have them. There was just a hint of lavender fragrance in these but if you wanted to taste more then just add more flowers! Enjoy!
I shall do a post tomorrow night early for Thoughtful Friday and then I will be away for just over a week. Oh, maybe I need to do two Thoughtful Fridays then!! It will be frantic last minute work and packing tomorrow and then a very early start on Thursday - 4.30am I think for the shuttle to France at 8am. Did I tell you that we are going to visit my penfriend (we started writing to each other when we were 14!!!) who has moved back to France in the last year having lived in England for the last 20 years? Can't wait to catch up with all her news. There will be lots to share on my return so be sure to check back. Until then, I hope for all of you in the UK that the weather BRIGHTENS UP!
Sunday, 17 August 2008
I took this picture outside as the sun was still shining and it certainly produced a better photo.
Then it was time to finish and for them all to go and get a train home, but before they did I gave them each a goody bag I had made especially for them. I do love making these up. It is such fun to think about what to put inside. Here they are all lined up and ready to go and see the next pic for a little view of the contents!
Friday, 15 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
"The act of knitting is inherently built on the formation of a stitch, the creation of fabric. When we knit, we place our attention over and over again on the natural rhythm of creating fabric from yarn - insert needle, wrap yarn, pull through a new stitch, repeat. Following this simple repetitive action is the basis of contemplative practice. It continually reminds us to stay focused, to stay in the moment. When we knit with this attention, we have a almost indescribable feeling of satisfaction and contentment. This is knitting as meditation" so says Tara who wrote the book I am reading at the moment. This has been a really interesting journey for me. I am naturally reflective and I suspect that many knitters and crafters are, but I used to find knitting very stressful. However since returning to the creative world after much time away doing a pretty responsible and heavy day job, I have since come to find it very relaxing and therapeutic. It is just the very 'being in the moment' that creates that calmer sense of being.
The book is based on Zen Buddhism but I am not a Buddhist, I am actually a Christian and I reckon the book translates well into any faith (or none) context. It is a mixture of knitting with patterns for some interesting projects at different levels (I am about to start a tea cosy knitted on circular needles which is one of the easier projects) with hints and tips about process and the skill of knitting, combined with the art of meditation and quiet reflection and how the one encourages the other.
Life can become so busy, can't it, with so much to do, so many people to see and so many things to think about, and time and space become a rareity. But it is at our peril, I believe, that we let this go unchallenged. Just a few minutes of quiet knitting (and I know you will know this in the very core of your being as I write this) can provide just the 'centering' that we need to cope with the next task/chore/person/email/report/phone call or whatever.
I haven't read all of the book yet but what I have read I like and it has made me realise that my return to knitting (and crochet and sewing etc) is as much about that time and space as it is about creativity. Let me leave you with another quote from the introduction by Tara:
"By simply creating a quiet state of being, you can begin to notice - notice your thoughts, notice your feelings, and notice the workings of your minid and experience. Through this process of noticing we can begin to develop a kindness - toward ourselves and our world".
Let me know if you have read this book and what you think of it. In the meantime I am going to try and work out how to put an amazon widget on my sidebar so I can show all the books I love and would love to recommend!
Sunday, 10 August 2008
I managed to finish hand-quilting this cushion cover while I was away recently and am really pleased with the result. It now looks like this:
And today I have just got the sewing bug and have sewn a couple more patchwork tops for cushions:
Not so sure about this colour combo but I was just using up the remainder of some squares I had in the stash ready cut.
So what else will I be doing now that I have finished some projects which have been on the go for a while. Well, it is definitely time for some more crochet so I have just started two crochet blankets/Afghans too. One is completely new and using the most fabulous coloured wool I bought just one large ball of in the US a couple of years ago now and the other is another go at a ripple. What is it about these Ripple Afghans!! Is it just me or is that first row a killer? Not sure whether it is because I get distracted or what, but by the time I get to the 219th chain I am never at the same place as the pattern suggests!!! I am pulling down my first row tonight AGAIN and will concentrate hard to see if I can get it to work.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Nothing like pounding that dough to let some of the tension subside! And look what you get into the bargain!
This is a three flour bread (cornmeal, wholemeal and white) and comes from the book "More with Less Cookbook" which I have had since we were first married and I see from Amazon is still available. In these days of credit crunch and feeling the pinch, it is good to get back to basics and rediscover old recipes that were family staples in the past. And if you would like to have a go at this one here it is:
Combine in a bowl:
half cup of cornmeal
half cup of brown sugar
1 tablespn of salt
Stir gradually into
2 cups boiling water then add one quarter cup of oil and cool to lukewarm.
measure out One and half cups wholemeal flour and three and half cups white flour and add a packet of dried yeast. Add the flour to the liquid and knead for three mins or so.
Put in a clean bowl covered with clingfilm in a warm place until doubled.
Take out and knead again for three mins then shape dough into two greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise again until double in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 mins - if you have a fan oven then it will be less but you will smell the wonderful smell of baking bread and be drawn to open your oven!! Happy baking!
Sunday, 3 August 2008
During the week on our days off, we visited mum-in-law who is now 82 but doing very well in her own little flat, and Wells itself where the cathedral is quite stunning and where there is a very interesting yarn shop!!!
And a very lovely walled garden with cafe/restaurant serving homemade soup and bread very reasonably and as this happens to be our favourite meal we thought we would indulge.