Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tuesday

Good morning, everyone.  It really is a 'cold and frosty morning' at the moment, very shiversome indeed with more than just a touch of frost.  I'm glad I'm going nowhere.

The sad news is that the virus I was fighting last week (and thought I had defeated) has come back with a vengeance and I'm feeling proper yuck, as a friend says.  To be honest, I think it's just a cold - bunged up, sore throat, shivers and aches and a headache - but enough for me to cancel tuition yesterday and today and I'm staying in and feeling sorry for myself.  I used to rather resent the feeling of HAVING to go to work when feeling a bit rough, even if it was probably the best thing to keep going and now I don't have to any more, I can go on my own inclinations in the matter and at the moment it's saying stay in, stay warm, don't push it.

Poor old me, eh (imagine a mildly sarcastic/cynical tone of voice here, please).  At least it gives me a chance to get on with my knitting.  I was going great guns, finishing a cowl neck so quite a lot of knitting, cast off and was about to start sewing up when I realised I'd knitted the neck the wrong way around, darn it.  So I have to undo it and try again, being more careful this time.

Once that's finished, I have plenty more to do.  On the list is a jumper, a cardigan and a pair of socks.  The only one I can start today is the jumper as Val has the cardigan pattern and the sock pattern but I have the yarn all ready.
I really don't need any more jumpers or cardigans but there's a lot of pleasure in the making.

To that's today.  What are your plans?  xx

Monday, 18 November 2019

Monday

Good morning, everyone.

The great news is that we had a really lovely afternoon yesterday.  Just about everyone who said they would come did come - and stayed and socialised and bought stuff and donated . . .
There were lots of comments about how warm and friendly everyone and everything was.  For a while, my downstairs was comfortably crowded but not too packed, I was kept busy making coffee and tea and chatting to everyone and the home made biscuits went down a treat, especially the biscotti.
Clare, the lady who ran her Dog Treat Stall was really lovely.
I was so glad I have portable ramps to my front door as two people in wheelchairs were able to come and enjoy themselves.  They've been a real social investment, those ramps.

Beth sold lots of her stuff, including some of her bigger items.  All the robin cushions and two of the owl cushions went quickly (they really are cute) and Beth now has to make another for me to give to someone and she also has orders for bunting and a couple of Christmas fabric wreaths.  She had a felt robin Christmas tree decoration, left over from some she made up for a customer, which I coveted greatly but some other meanie bought it - so now she is going to make some more for me.

Here he is - a jolly little fellow, I think.


These craft fairs in halls can be a very discouraging experience as people walk past, often not even giving the stall holder a smile.  Since Beth started selling her creations, I've had a lot more understanding, believe me.  Now I make a point of stopping and looking and having a little chat to the person behind the table and, if I can, I buy a little something.
Beth's last two events have both been at private homes with invited guests and have been much more successful, not just in terms of things sold but also in terms of friendliness and warmth and overall good experience.

My lovely friend, Jen, turned up with a big bag of quality yarn, mostly sock weight, as a donation, saying that if people bought any, it could go into the charity box.  I now have a pair of socks to knit but not until another friend, Val, has made hers, as she bought a ball and borrowed my sock pattern! 

Best of all, after counting donations of various kinds, we have £131 to donate to the Alzheimer's Society.  I'll do that online today when Beth brings over a code that she has from the Society that came with the fund raising pack (which we only wanted for the collection box really!).

I was so tired last night but not so tired as to miss Strictly (bit of a shock, that, but no spoilers in here or in any comments, please) and so zonked that all I did was make a plate of chips in my actifry.  Really healthy, don't you think!!!   No?
I thought I'd sleep well but I think my brain was too much a-buzzing as I didn't really and was up far too early!
Never mind, it all sorts out eventually.

Today isn't too bad either. 
Beth will be round this morning to sort and put away her things (we were both too tired yesterday evening) and we can get my furniture back into place and carry the gopak table back into the garage..  It's not messy at the moment, it's really very tidy, but Beth's things need taking back up to her work room, something I can't really do for her.  Because I had to sort out little piles of clutter, once that's done my downstairs will be tidier than it's been in a long while.  Definitely a Good Thing. 

I'll keep out the few Christmas things I put up - the seven candle thingy at the window, the new red candles on the holders on the sideboard and the Christmas bunting that Beth made for me last year as it's all very cheering on those more gloomy days.

I digress.  Beth will be round and I have some soup leftover from yesterday to share with her.  Then I'm off to help in foundation stage followed by a tuition session (so I'd better check over the student's folder, although I am pretty sure I have everything ready).  This evening is free so after finishing off a bit of ironing, I will relax and get on with my knitting, smug in the knowledge that downstairs, at least, is lovely and tidy again!

I do seem to have gone on rather.  Sorry!  I'm hoping that yesterday was good for you too and that today will also be great.  xx

(I need to add - if anyone is interested in anything Beth makes, please say as she does post things out as well as doing face to face stuff)

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Sunday

Good morning.  I'm up with the lark today which means that I have plenty of time before Open House starts at two and no need for any panic - not that I would anyway as all is ready apart from shifting one chair and getting the coffee making stuff ready.

I made some flapjacks first thing yesterday.  It's a remarkably simple recipe (like all flapjacks really) and comes from a book that means a lot to me.

While I was off at college, my mum, being new into the area, got involved in some social 'helping out' kind of stuff as soon as she got her driving licence.  One of the things she did was drive people to and from the local hospital, either for appointments or to visit loved ones.  She regularly took one elderly gentleman there and back to visit his very poorly wife for quite a while and got to know him quite well so he heard all about the arrangements for my forthcoming wedding, etc.

When his wife passed on, he gave Mum one of her old cookery books, saying that it was for me because she had said it was the best book for a new wife to have (in the days before Delia, of course).  That book was the 'Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium', actually three Good Housekeeping books in one:  Basic Cookery, Picture Cookery and Cake Making.  It was in a 'used' state then but that made no difference and it's been used by me quite a lot since.  It's a bit dated now (it's as old as I am) but there are still some great recipes and the demerara flapjack recipe is one of them.  Mum used
 the same recipe too.

So it was rather lovely using the recipe again yesterday - and the flapjacks it makes are always lovely!

I was rootling through the freezer yesterday and, to my delight, found some puff pastry that I forgot was there.  That means I won't have to buy any to make Delia's vegetarian sausage rolls, another family tradition.  We like them better than the meat ones.
Here's the recipe but forget about making the pastry unless you really, really want to.  Even St Delia said 'use shop bought puff pastry'.  The filling is wonderful;.
https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/vegetarian-food/vegetarian-sausage-rolls

I've started my list of Things To Do on my scheduled Christmas Prep Day.  It's going to be long so I'll do some stuff beforehand, I think, keeping the real fun stuff for that day.

Beth and I worked hard to get downstairs ready for this afternoon.  Here's a few photos.

 Bags galore.
 Lovely cot quilts watched over by four cute mice.
 Prehugged dolls and lots and lots of clothes plus felt Christmas tree decorations.
 Loadsa cushions.
And two boxes of Christmas cards.


















Lovely home made biscuits . . .





And a comfortable area to sit and chat in between biscuits.














How I hope people will come.  xx

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Saturday

Good morning!  It's cold and dark and that's all I can say really!  Hoping for some dry weather as I need to get some things in from the garage today.

I took it gently yesterday and was rewarded by feeling more and more with it as the day went on.  I did some of rather a high pile of ironing (and will do the rest during Strictly this evening), I gave the kitchen a good tidy up, popped some washing in the machine and I went online and ordered some little bottles.

You may remember that a short while ago I made two fruit liqueurs, one damson and the other clementine.  I checked the damson one yesterday and it's coming on a treat.
Anyway, I want to give some as gifts and that means nice little bottles, hence the order.

I can say in here because the recipients don't read my blog - we're having one of our girls' meals next month.  It's a Christmas lunch as a local eatery and we always do gifts for each other with a price limit.  I've decided to go home made and, for the limit, I can make up a Christmas treats pack with a little bottle of damson or clementine liqueur with a little bottle of sparkling something to go with it (I will have to buy that), a small pot of Jamie's festive malted chocolate drink powder (it's lovely, I've made it before) and a pack of home made biscotti to dunk in the chocolate drink once it is made up.  I'm not counting the cost of the bottles as the chances are I will get them back again.  I think I can also squeeze in some of my home made cranberry sauce, made with frozen cranberries, sugar, orange zest and a shot of cointreau.  It's ever so nice!
It's amazing how much more you can get if you home make and none of the above is at all difficult to make.

Here's a link to the Jamie hot chocolate powder (and how to make it up into a drink).
https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/epic-hot-chocolate/
Serve with a dollop of squirty cream, a few mini marshmallows and some grated chocolate with biscotti to dunk for a really special treat.

I just have to work out how to gift wrap them all.

Another thing I did was to look up how to ice a Christmas cake on you tube (lots of clips, all saying much the same thing so fingers crossed) and then some ideas for decorating.  I think I will do something like one of these, but all white with maybe  a few silver baubles and a tartan ribbon round, to go with the overall Christmas colour theme.  I have snowflake cutters, so that's OK.
(photos borrowed from Google Images with thanks)
























Today is a busy day as tomorrow is the Kitty Stitches open house so everything needs to be got ready today,  I will spend the morning dealing with all the little piles of stuff in the living room and then Beth and I will be shifting furniture around and getting everything ready.
I've decided to make one more 'biscuit' (flapjack) for tomorrow.  I have too many biscuits now but they will all freeze/keep so no problem!
I need to do a little shop too, for milk and squash.  I have everything else in.


Friday, 15 November 2019

Friday

Good morning, everyone.  We're in the second half of November now with weather to match.  It's gloomy, breezy, damp and cold out there but at least we haven't had snow around here, thankfully.  A bit early for all that!

I've got round to uploading a couple of photos I took at Stratford on Tuesday.  I didn't take many, it wasn't that sort of a trip, but there was this absolutely massive Christmas tree just outside along The Street and strolling back I spotted something appropriate, especially with the shop name in the background.  Everyone seemed to be rushing . . .

The light wasn't great and actually it's a lot bigger than it looks in the photo.


I spent a lot of yesterday dithering about whether to cancel tuition and pottery but in the end I didn't and it was OK.  I'm still feeling around 90% and, as my friend and her husband who was going to drive us are also not very well, we've postponed our jolly until things are better.  A shame but I am relieved that common sense has been applied.

At pottery, I spent the whole time painting glaze on my Christmas candle holder.  I used 'underglaze' which I haven't used before.  It goes on just like paint really so it was all a bit daunting and, not being steady handed in that way, I don't think the results will be great, but, hey, who's going to notice when there's a lovely big candle burning.
This is glaze you can colour mix.  That was nice and I enjoyed getting three different shades of green - one for the background, a yellowy one for the ivy and a deeper one for the holly before adding little touches of red for the holly berries.  I forgot to take a photo until the end, rushed into the kiln room with my phone and found that it was already in the kiln so sorry.  It has to be glazed and then, next week, I will add a transparent glaze to make it shiny.

I did take a photo of Beth's work.  She was taught how to make a coil pot and ended up with this.  Very cute.


Today, thanks to the jolly not going ahead, I have a totally free day and I need it, I think.  I'm feeling very 'bleary' and tired.  The cleaners come at some point (thank goodness) and Beth will be over, but apart from that, nothing and I intend to enjoy it.  The teeth remain pain free (lucky me) and, at the moment, next Thursday is just a tight little knot somewhere inside me that I am managing to keep fenced around and out of the way.  Beth, bless her, said she will come with me.  What a star!

Have a great day and stay warm and dry, whatever weather you are having.  xx

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Thursday

Good morning, all.  After a gorgeously sunny day yesterday, it's been raining this morning although it's clearing now and looks more promising than the forecast would indicate.

Yesterday was a funny old day.  I forced myself down to the dentist after the milk run was over and got myself an appointment.  It's not until next Thursday afternoon as it's a busy practice (which is reassuring) and it's not an emergency.  I'm not in pain or anything, thankfully, just getting a twinge now and again.  I've got the bridge that fell off but it's very old, well over twenty five years old, and I think bits have broken so it's not as simple as just sticking it back in.  And there's the other three teeth to deal with as well so I really am going to have to woman-up and face the music.  Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!

Thanks for all your comments.  It helps to know I'm not the only one with an absolute dread of all things dental.

By the time I got home, I was in a bit of a wobble but things had to be done before I went off to training with Lindsey, so I had no time for a 'poor old me' session, thankfully.
After PT, Beth was round and we had a prep session for the Kitty Stitches Open House on Sunday.  She made cards and I made biscotti!
We also made an almighty mess!

If you're interested in coming, do get in touch via comments and I can give you the details.















Then it was off to Governors' Meeting.  It was a good one this time, interesting enough that I didn't need to fight to stay awake.

However, I don't think it's just the dental tension, I'm feeling a bit achey and around 90% so I'm taking it easy today.  I've cancelled the Aqua class I was booked into and I'm just going to potter around until tuition when I ought to be feeling a lot better again.
I do hope so because I'm not missing pottery again!

Have a good day, everyone.  xx

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Wednesday

Good morning, everyone.  It's another cold start but the frost has gone and there's rain forecast for later.  Jeff is out there, working his magic on my garden to make it look at least reasonable for a few days.

Yesterday as good. Transport worked really well for me.  A bus came almost straight away, I only waited five minutes for the train which only stopped at Shenfield before Stratford and on the way home I got onto platform 10 and in pulled a train, first stop Chelmsford.  Then I waited two minutes at the bus stop before along came a 56.  It really couldn't have been better.

As for Stratford, loadsa shops in the centre, some that we have here too and some very posh ones with up market assistants and no prices on show.  I had a lovely time meandering up and down the three levels of shops but failed to spend very much at all.  All I got was some snowflake icing cutters because that's how I'm going to ice the Christmas cake; very simply with whiote icing and white showflake shapes and maybe a shiny spray over the lot and then a nice, red, gold and green ribbon around the outside.

I enjoyed myself but once was enough really.  Chelmsford is really good for shops now so there's no need to go further abroad for the shops, just for the experience.

Looking at my colour coded sheet, the next one is this Friday when I'm off out with a friend to visit another friend who has her own yarn business.  The chances are much higher that I will spend on Friday!

However, I'm feeling quite down today and it's my own fault totally.  I have a real problem with dentists.  Not quite a phobia but not far off, to the extent that I totally neglect that part of my life and always have done.  However, deeds (or lack of) are coming home to roost.  I've had some bad teeth for a while, that's one issue.  The other is that for a long time I have had a bridge after I lost a tooth more or less at the front.  I lost the tooth as a teenager and, after lots of unsatisfactory false ones, I finally had the bridge fitted so, obviously the teeth either side were also affected.  For a while I've been aware that the bridge has felt a bit wobbly but yesterday late afternoon the worst happened - the whole thing came off. 
So this morning I am off to a local dentists to see if I can get an appointment or five to have all the dental stuff sorted out and, to be honest, I am terrified.  I know you're thinking 'grow up' so I will do my best but oh dear!

The other stuff today is Personal Training and a Governors' Meeting this evening, so I'd better drag out the paperwork and give it all a good read.

I will be glad when today is over.