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      Drinks to see me through the summer

      22nd May 

      The weeks are flashing past and before we know it, mid summer will be here.  Today I spotted the first elderflowers flowering and so in a week or two, I will be out there along with many others collecting my flower heads and making my own elderflower cordial.  Which made me think, that depending on the weather dictates what I like to drink in the day.  Gone now are the cold wet dark damp nights, of roaring log fires and a warmed glass of rioja or mulled wine but instead more delicate flavours and lighter drinks are required. 

      The last few mornings instead of automatically reaching out for caffeine my body has craved, yes you read that right, craved a cleaner drink and so I have been drinking hot water with slices of lemon.  I often revert back to this drink in the summer as my first drink of the day.  I would not want to be with out this on summer mornings.

      hot water and lemon
      Hot water and lemon to start the day

      During the day other than drinking tap water, I am a tap water lover, I really savour elderflower cordial.  I had Amy here for lunch yesterday and that was our drink of choice, but my remiss was to give her bought cordial, when in fact I actually have two bottles left from last years making!  Doh!  this really is a wonderful early summer drink, so delicate.  It's especially lovely with sparkling water or even a cheeky glass of champagne.  In case you want to collate all that you need to be ready for making elderflower cordial follow the link to a great recipe!  Elderflower cordial

      elderflower cordial
      Elderflower cordial and sparkling water

      Usually towards the end of the summer I remember how much I love iced coffee and how excellent it really is at hitting the spot on a hot dry day.  This year, a first, I have remembered it at the beginning of the season and have already partaken of a sip or two.  I shall really enjoy this all summer long now.

      iced coffee
      Iced coffee, I keep a jug of it in the fridge

      What would a girl living in Britain be if she didn't include in her summer drinking that of good old Pimms.  An English summer is not an English summer without sport, strawberries and Pimms.

      pimms summer drink
      Pimms in a kilner jar!

      Lastly and although strictly a drink I love all year round, I think it especially lovely on early summer evenings, just to get the week end started, a classic mojito... in fact, I'm off to make one now, have a wonderful weekend everyone.

      mojito cocktail
      Always time for a mojito

      Joining in with  Amy  from Love Made My Home and  The List #37  hope you
      enjoyed my 5 summer drinks, pop over and see what others are sharing too and 

      ♥  As we say in the UK,  CHEERS 

Loosing my fireplace...

15th May

My Five on Friday this week is extremely eclectic, it matches my blog name and my life!  Life itself has rudely gotton' in the way of my crafting and sanity may I hasten to add this week and so I am feeling somewhat frustrated.  So firstly, here's a little tale about my week to possibly make you laugh.

For two or more years my husband has asked me to get someone in to change one of the wood burning stoves into an open fire place, put a chimney lining in and to renovate another smaller open fire that has quite frankly seen better days.  In exasperation two week ends ago on passing an advertisement banner, at some traffic lights, some miles away from home, he urged me to call the fire place people who were advertising on the side of the road.  As the good wife that I am, take that as you wish, I did and was greeted with a voicemail. 

A day or two later having just come off the phone from my husband, the phone rang immediately again, thinking he had forgotten to give me another instruction on something else, I answered with a very cheery, 'Hello babes,' to be greeted in return with, 'I don't think I am your babes, but have no objection to you calling me that!'  I was mortified and was actually talking to the fireplace man.  I told him what we wanted and could he come and quote, he handed me over to his wife cum secretary to add me into the book.  We found a mutually acceptable date, but I could hear him in the background saying, he was ok to come on that date, even though his wife had obviously forgotten it was his birthday.  She cheekily replied that that was ok as she was sure that I would bake him a cake as I was already calling him babes.  It was all very light hearted and no offense was taken by anyone.

So where is this story going?  Well that's just it, it's going.  What's going?  My mind is going... let me explain.

Some of the pudding available at Pudding night,
you could have as many as you wanted!
Sitting at a pub this week at their pudding club night, oh it was sooo good, with my book club chums,  I feel into panic as I realised that I could not remember when the fire place man was coming.  You know when you have a niggle and it just won't go away, in fact it gets bigger until you do something about it.  I just had to get out my diary, I know I should hold it all electronically and then it will magically upload itself to my pc as well, but I love paper diaries and I cannot get away from them.  No apologies.  So the diary was out and I frantically was flicking back and forth and probably disturbed the flow of the conversation on our table, sorry girls.  But it was to no avail, I had not written it down anywhere, except there was a mysterious lonely jotting down of  '1045' for the following day.  That must be it I thought to myself and put the diary away.

No nothing happened at 1045, perhaps I should have been somewhere, that I am still to discover but certainly no fireplace man came.  Still worrying about this, I sat down and googled all the fire place business' around, as can you guess, I couldn't even remember the name of the company, nor where they were based.  I spent nearly two hours phoning up various places asking if they knew my name, did they think they were coming out to give me a quote and could they tell me when.  I had some very odd conversations and I'm sure they all thought I had lost the plot.  I think I have too.  On my phone, where I had called them from,  the recent numbers were so recent that the fire place number had dropped off the grid and I am still none the wiser as to when he is coming, on his birthday I may add, or what the company is called.  I feel bad, downright bad and uncomfortable about it.  I cannot wait in every day, there is a job to attend, children to ferry around and shopping inevitably to be bought.  He may turn up and I am not here.

So I began all this to let you know that life is getting in the way of pleasure and that in the process I am becoming forgetful and loosing my mind.  There is no hope for me, I'm doomed!

I therefore have very little to show you this week, although coming to the end of the second week of the sockalong and you can see now that I am knitting socks, they are beginning to actually resemble socks.  It is hugely addictive and I am loving it.  These will not be my last pair of socks.  In fact I have other things I must make next, but socks will be coming back onto the needles very soon again and I maybe even more adventurous and go for an intermediate pattern this time!  So my socks are the third thing I am sharing with you today.

I like knitting only so far and then
catching up with the second sock

I might actually try TAAT (two at a time) next

Checking it fits, it's snug, perhaps a
couple of more stiches next time

Yeah, one heel turned and gusset complete,
now onto number 2, all ready for the
last instalment on Sunday of the sockalong

I have actually started a glass fusing course and admit to being addicted.  Cutting, shaping, trying to think from a 2D perspective to a 3D one is very difficult for me, but slowly slowly, it is coming together.  After four sessions, I am getting the hang of it.  A little tease of a glimpse as I feel it's worthy of a whole post in it's own right...

Glass fusing is such good fun
Lastly, for those that wanted to know how we are getting along, the garden is transforming beyond belief.  We have a long way to go, but we are getting there...

Bad weather in the UK or a garden overhaul?

Spot the moved shed, it's not the one on the left!

  In case I forget to post again,
due to my forgetfulness nudge me

Joining in with  Amy  over at Love Made My home sharing five things from my week

Post election blues in five minutes

8th May 

Butterfly in my garden this morning
Along with some of the UK population I voted yesterday.  I had to.  How could I grumble over the next five years if I didn't make my voice heard.  In so many places women still do not have this right and I couldn't let it sit there not being used.  And what role model would I be to the next generation if I didn't vote?  But do you know what, I'm feeling blue today and had no intention of blogging.  I awoke to this blue feeling and I am struggling to shift it.

Taking my coffee outside into the garden, it's cold here at the moment and I was shivering, I spotted my first butterfly of the season.  I felt excited and hurried indoors for my camera not expecting said butterfly to still be in situ but it was worth a try.  And by golly, it was still there.  This little butterfly began to shift my blues very slowly away and it made me think.  Everywhere around us, no matter how we are feeling, there is beauty and good around us, but sometimes we have to be woken up and even shaken out of our blues, not always an easy feat.  Googling a few moments ago, I discovered that this was probably an orange tipped butterfly, look carefully and you can just see the orange.

Allium just coming out and butterfly

Notice the tiny little bit of orange...
Think it means it is an orange tip butterfly

So what else has happened to me this week...

My daughter had her leavers dress up day and prom, where on earth have those years flown?  I so remember being that age and thinking I was so very grown up, looking at my daughter, I realise I wasn't at all grown up but it is a rite of passage and she must also feel the same.  She and two friends decided to be the 3 blind mice from the movie Shrek and a third friend was Shrek himself. 

Such a fun day for them

The weekend saw us empting or should I say part empting as we will have to complete it all tomorrow, the workshop and shed at the bottom of the garden.  I have had a mad idea for some time now to change the bottom of the garden around.  Very time consuming and it will create huge upheaval and I must confess to beginning to wonder if I have not made a huge mistake in beginning the little, ha, really BIG project.  Time will tell.  I have already completely shoved and stuffed the car full and taken 4 dump runs and 2 charity runs.  Why on earth do we have so much 'stuff'?

Just some of the items that were brought out.

One of my oldest and dearest friends came home for a few weeks, she has been living in Australia for the last eight years with no intention of moving back here at all, they are settled and as her husband said, they are living the millionaires life there that they couldn't afford to here.  So we seldom see each other.  But it is true isn't it, that no matter how infrequent the times together, true friendship picks off where it left off.  I miss her already. 

We cannot underestimate the value of friendship

...and what would my week be without some form of craft?  I have joined in with a wonderful and relatively short craft along, called a sock along... am loving making these socks, for more details about how to join in, it's not too late and is perfect for beginners, see here
Knitting up sock two, both aiming to be ready to
start the heel on Sunday

Joining in unexpectedly this week with my five things that have cheered me up one way or another this week with Amy Pop over and see what others are blogging about too, you never know you may find a new favourite blogging site.

♥  Here's to a less blue weekend  ♥

A sock along

May 5th  

Many knitters end up knitting socks for one reason or another.  I have always wanted to have a go and there was one aborted attempt early in 2014.  I remember being so excited as the heel with a heart began to take shape but then I came along to joining the gusset of the sock and there  gave up.  I decided I needed to become a better knitter first. 

My first attempt at knitting a sock whilst polishing
off the Christmas sweets in early 2014

As I have decided that 2015 was to be the year I cracked knitting, it was inevitable that socks would feature somewhere along the line.  It was about four weeks ago that I attempted socks for the second time and do you know what, I was feeling more confident and with a few mistakes here and there, they began to shape up.  I even managed the heel and the gusset too!  Fancy that. 

Knitting or crochet I always like to have food to hand!

I was so excited about completing
the heel of the sock

In my haste to finish sock one, I made it too short for my foot and decreased too quickly leaving not enough of the contrast colour for the toe.  I decided to knit up sock two first making the necessary changes, so that  a) it fitted properly b) it looked better. Then I would return to sock one and rectify it to match sock two, can you follow me?!?!

Sock was too short and there was not
enough of the contrast toe colour

Sock one and two, big difference.

Making these socks has been a huge learning curve.  Firstly, not to be afraid and just give it a go and if it goes wrong not to be afraid to start again.  What I forgot to mention here was that sock one was really version number two as I made the sock almost to completion just in blue, when I decided I wanted to add a contrast cuff and toe.  So I frogged it all and started again.  I would never have done this a year or so ago as I would have been too sad to rip up all my hard knitting which takes me so long.  I also learnt how to join the gusset for the first time and how to complete the toe using Kitchener stitch.

I do have a slight dilemma however and I will have to address it soon, but the wonderful Christine Perry over at Winwick Mum blog began to tempt us newbie sock knitters with a three week sock along.  Prior to beginning, we are only in week one, so it is not too late to join in if you fancy, link below, she posted such informative posts about tension, types of needles to use etc. that were so clear and easy to follow that I had no choice but to order some wool and a very short circular needle and stitch markers so that I too could join in.  My dilemma.... my first completed pair of socks are still in the stage where they do not match as I have not had time to go back and change sock one!!!  but have now begun on the sockalong.

Lovely soft wool, but so thin compared to the
wool I used in my previous pair, and look how
short that circular needle is, I'm used to dpn,
this could be very interesting...

Feeling excited and happy and glad to be in a sockalong as it keeps me on top of things as I do not like to be left behind. 

It felt slightly awkard transferring from dpn to a circular needle, but I'm sure I will get the hang of it.

Oh my word.  I feel like a giant knitting on these needles, they are so small and I feel all fingers and thumbs and cumbersome, am really hoping I get the feel for these or I may have to revert back to dpn.  I'll persevere for a bit to see what happens...

Well I am on day two and persevering is the word.  I still feel cumbersome using the short circular needles and on my right hand my little finger cannot seem to find a comfortable position, but the sock is growing quickly, actually quicker than using dpn, I think.

Just another 10 rows and the leg is finished

In my desire to not fall behind I have ordered another short circular needle so that I can begin sock 2 and almost make them simultaneously.  Knitters amongst you will be wondering why I do not use a longer circular needle and use the magic loop to knit two at a time (TAAT).  To be honest at this stage in my knitting career that could be a step too far.  Small tiny steps before I can run, me thinks.

What was very interesting was that is was hard to now locate short circular 2.5mm needles on the internet, there must be a run on with so many in the sockalong.  At last look I saw there were over 600 members in this group from all over the world.  So unfortunately it doesn't look like my new needles will arrive until Monday and I am not sure I can wait that long.  I will have to transfer this sock onto other needles to allow me to begin sock two too!

If you have never knitted socks before but know the basic stitches and have always secretly fancied knitting a pair, I really urge you to join in.  Christine's instructions are so very clear, she uses lots of photographs and she is on hand on the fb page to respond to questions.  In addition she has set up both flicker and raverly groups for the sockalong too.  It's fun and inspiring knitting at the same time as others.  I really didn't think it was my 'thing' but this is the second time I have joined in on crafts with others for a short time and I love it.  The last being the cosy CAL with Lucy from Attic 24    see post here   Come on, join in too, we are very friendly and every one helps each other.  
  Come and join in on the sockalong 

Crochet and Mocha roulade

1st May     

One of the first bakes I ever made that I was proud of was a mocha roulade and it became my go to bake at the drop of a hat.  In fact I made it so often, it was a wonder I made anything else. I had totally forgotten about it until last week when my youngest was due to make a Swiss roll at school but because they had a cover teacher he came home without having made it.  We began talking as you do about school the pros and cons of it all and I mentioned how I learnt to make my favourite bake, this elusive mocha roulade.  Why elusive, well I do not think I have made it for at least eight years, defiantly my youngest could not remember.  That settled it, it was to become this weeks crochet bake and a good thick slice given to Jack before the ladies arrived.  He approved and I think I maybe making this again very soon, I shall not wait another eight years...

This weeks baking ~ Mocha roulade

You will need:
Slightly risen and springy

for the sponge
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 50g (2oz) cocoa powder,
  • 2 tbsp. coffee granules plus 1 tbsp. of boiling water

for the filling
  • 250ml (9fl oz) double cream
  • a good size handful of green grapes, halved
  • 2tsp caster sugar
you will also need
  • 30x20cm (12x8in) Swiss roll tin, lined with baking parchment
  • Rolled up roulade and cooling
  • baking parchment larger in length than the Swiss roll tin

♥  Pre heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius
♥  Line the Swiss roll tin with baking parchment
♥  Whisk the egg whites until stiff
♥  In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
♥  Into the yolk mix, sieve the cocoa powder and gentle fold in.
♥  Add the boiling water to the coffee and make it into a smooth paste.  Gentle add this to the yolk mix.
♥  Add the egg whites to the yolk mixture a spoon at a time, making sure to fold it in well but to not loose all the air.
♥  Pour into the prepared tin and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes.  The sponge should have risen and be springy.
♥  Place the parchment paper on the work surface and sprinkle with caster sugar.
♥  Straight from the oven turn the sponge onto the sugared paper.  Gently remove the parchment paper that was on the sponge in the oven.

Make sure the cream and grapes make it to all edges
♥  Using the new baking parchment, carefully roll up the sponge into a Swiss roll whilst warm and allow it to stay like this until cooled.
♥  Meanwhile, whip the cream until it just holds its shape, do not over whip, nor actually have it too runny as it will run out of the roll!!!  Halve the grapes.
♥  Gently unroll the sponge, it will be almost flat but slightly curved.  Spread with the cream and sprinkle on the grapes.
♥  The interesting part!  Using the parchment paper that the sponge is on, re roll the sponge, but do not let the parchment paper become rolled up with it, use it to roll the sponge, but peel it away as you roll.  The sponge may sometime crack a little, but I do not think this matters.
♥  Optional decoration.  Many years ago I used to pipe a line along the centre of the roll and then place more of the halved grapes.  Today, I did not bother...
♥  Eat and enjoy.

The parchment was used to re roll the roulade

Mocha roulade

A book recommendation ~ Crocheted flowers

The focus for the last crochet session in this run of course was to be flowers.  It's funny really I began teaching these ladies different stitches whilst making a blanket, their first project ever and now each week we focus on a smaller project, with many of the ladies making a second blanket alongside.  I just love my Thursdays and hope some or all of them will sign up for the next set.

A great go to book for flowers and I am sure many have this on their book shelves is the title 100 flowers to knit & crochet.  If you haven't seen it, do.  I decided it best to teach them a basic flower but that they would be able to complete two in an evening.  Not liking the simple life, I felt they could cope with two different patterns...

A great go to book for knitted & crocheted flowers

The two flowers that were taught

Something to be proud of ~ Pupil's work 
It's time to boast.  Last night was the last of my second ever crochet course and I feel the ladies have come a long way and I am so very proud of them.  Here's a very small selection of some of their work...

A first ever crochet priject

After making blankets, dog brooches and Easter rabbits,
we felt it time to learn the granny square

Scottie dog brooch, see   here  for instructions

Ripple stitch cushion

Learning to edge

Easter bunnies were addicitive

Lots of stitches were learnt

A question ~  to block or not? 

I never really know if I should block my work, so I tend to give it a try and see.  It's true 9 out of 10 times, I prefer it blocked, but not always.  As to flowers, I quite like the curling effect, it gives it a wind swept feel, but then the detail does look better blocked.  To block or not?  what do you do?

Blocking a crochet flower

Top flower blocked, bottom flower not!

A necessity ~ Scrap yarn busting 
Yep sometimes it's just got to be done.  I have far too much yarn, is that possibly, I hear you say.  Yep, it is.  Ideally I would like more, but I'm having trouble storing it all and to be honest, I am coming round to the thinking that if I want to make something I really should buy specifically for that project.  I am a conundrum as I do often like spur of the minute projects and I would be do frustrated if I didn't have any yarn from which to choose when the urge hits me in the middle of the night.  So I have no real answer as to what to do, but I do know that every now and then I need to bust some of my stash.  And that is what I have been doing this week with the crocheted flowers and the granny vase I made yesterday, see here

It's been another week of illness in this household but we are beginning to come through the fog, thank crunchy for that.  Hoping May is full of good health, fingers crossed...

Joining in with  Amy  for her Five on Friday, pop along and see what others are up to. 

♥  Have a wonderful long weekend if you are in the UK ♥