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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

First of my 2015 makes and other ramblings.

Where has the time gone that we are already fast approaching the end of January and the first month of the new year.


In December 2014 I took it into my head to create some lovely cowls as Christmas presents for my colleagues at work.  I put myself so under pressure to get them all off the needle that once I had finished them I completely forgot to take any photo's before wrapping them up.
I then found some wool I had hidden away in my stash for what must have been at least two possibly even three years and so I decided I would make another cowl with no one in particular in mind to receive it once it was completed. Once finished I loved the colour so much that I decided that the perfect person to receive this latest addition to the cowl making project would be

ME

so here is my first make of 2015 tadah.....


  
I have to tell you it's had it's first wearing to work this week and not only has it had lots of lovely comments it has been incredibly warm to boot. 

I thought today's post would also be a good time to catch up on where I am up to with my challenges for 2015.

Just to remind you this years challenges are firstly to bake or make something I have either not made for a long time if at all and for January I made Tiramisu.
My second challenge is to go back and read some of the books of mine and my children's childhoods. 
I kicked off with Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Who can resist the story of Mary Lennox, Martha & Dicken an Mary's cousin Colin.  This book just brings back memories of primary school when my then teacher Mrs Rose read us a snippet every afternoon until she turned the last page. It was always one of my childhood favourites and I enjoyed sharing this one with my own daughter. When I told her I had read it again she decided to unearth her copy and is happily reading it again herself. 

My third and final challenge is to get out my cross stitch again.  I have many of my cross stitches hanging around the cottage but haven't really done any serious stitching for quite sometime.


I was given this Magical Cross Stitch book sometime ago and had fallen in love with three of the charts. The Dark Sorceress, The Earth Goddess and The Fairy Queen all contained within.  Whilst I was at home over the holidays I decided to start one of the three and show you each month how far I have progressed, which means she can't be put back in the drawer and forgotten about.
  I picked The Dark Sorceress as my fist project

To the left is the point I was at in my post at the beginning of January and to the right is where I am now.  As you can see she has come on quite along way I hope you would agree.  I had tasked myself to at least have one day a week (usually a Sunday) to have as my cross stitch day and so now I have Cross Stitch Sundays, only last weekend it was Cross Stitch Saturday as I had completed the last square of my crochet project and spent Sunday afternoon starting to join them all together, but more of that another time.

As any of you who follow my Tea and Biscuits and a Good Book blog will know I am quite a readaholic and average about six books a month. This month I have gotten through nine. It's actually been a bit of a kindlefest this month, with six out of the nine being read on my kindle.
 I still love the feel of a real book too and it is one of those that I am going to tell you about.
Just before Christmas I kept seeing this book in the shops and I had picked it up and looked at it on several occasions including Christmas Eve but kept myself in check telling myself that if it didn't arrive via Santa that I would come back and buy it. Sometimes it can be the cover that will draw me in other times it's the wording on the back or the reading of a random page from within, in this books case it was all three.



So what is this book called I hear you ask.  Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and guess what it did arrive in Santa's sack. .  It tells the story of two sisters and their elderly parents. One sister was a stay local to mum and dad, married mum of two daughters and works in the family orchard business, the other is a high flying photojournalist, who travels all over the world.  Their mother has never really shown them love and affection and now as adults they struggle to show her any love and affection  back.  Throughout their childhood their mother used to tell them a fairy-tale of the  Black Knight, the Prince and the Peasant girl. The girls loved this story so much that they decide one Christmas to do the story as a pantomime. Their mother becomes very distressed and never repeats the story, what the girls hadn't realised was that the fairy-tale was actually the story of their mother before she had married their father.  When their elderly father becomes ill he tells his wife now is the time that she must finish telling their girls the story.  This takes the three women on a journey of discovery and for their mother to finally discover the truth.

This was a truly un-put-downable book and wherever I was you would find the book in my hand.
I try and keep my books to my other blog but on that occasion when something so good comes along, well you just have to share it don't you. So if you are looking for a good book to read in the remaining Winter month then I would definitely suggest you have a look at this one, you won't be disappointed.  Having finished it I then passed it on to my book share buddy Lou in the office. I did warn her that a large box of tissues and big bar of chocolate would be required. When she bought it back this week she said she had thoroughly enjoyed it and found she had tears running down her cheeks at varying times during reading it much to the amusement of her husband.
Well sometimes you just have to have a good cry don't you.

So there we are a tah dah moment, a quick challenge update and to finish off a book review.

Have a lovely week one & all and catch up with you again next month.




Mx

   

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A trip around my garden and other ramblings....


I thought I would start today's blog with a little trip around the garden. In the Honeysuckle remains the remnants of Mabel & Earls nest from last Spring.  Hopefully they will be back soon building a nest again ready to raise another clutch of baby Blackbirds.



The bird bath has frozen over a few times lately and we've had to do a quick defrost to make sure that the birds who do visit our garden can get to the water. The Hellebore's are all starting to shows signs of flowering. These are one of my favourite plants and I have the dotted about all of the garden. Our  Fatsia was one of the first things we planted when we moved her in 2009 and this year the flowers have been magnificent. And at last there are signs that Spring is not too far away as all my daffodils are getting ready to show off their beautiful flowers again this year.


and look who popped by to say hello. I'd like to think it's Mabel and know it probably isn't but humor me all the same.


I usually find January a hard month having had all my family around at Christmas and some time off I always feel that I come back down to earth with a bump when it's all over for another year and it's back to normality and work.  It's still been so dark of a morning travelling to work and by the time I leave it's usually dark when I return home.  It was lovely to see this beautiful red sky as I traveled to work through the Vale of Belvoir the other morning and to see such blue skies later in the day.  But that didn't last did it. We then went back to a dark morning accompanied by snow and the last couple of mornings it has been freezing.
Still only one more month of Winter and anyone who follows Green Rabbit Designs will know that Vivienne doesn't believe we have three months of Winter and that we are now in fact in Pre-Spring.  If you click on the link you will also see that when she was making her little Christmas bunnies I got a really lovely surprise when she named one of her girls Mitzi.  Now I know it's only coincidence but leave me in my ignorance a bit longer won't you.  I don't get to meet any other Mitzi's with it being such an unusual name and when I do it's usually the name of someone's poodle or cat so it was nice to share my name with such a gorgeous girl instead.



now I'm going to show off my bargain of the week.  I picked up these lovely Tulips one evening when I stopped at the Supermarket for bread and milk as you do, for 30p when their ticket price originally was £5


across the week they have opened and I have to tell you their perfume has been out of this world. 
I do like to have flowers in the house.


These are sat on my dining room table.


Speaking of tables, some of you like to share the things that gather on your table across the week or month so I thought I would share with you what was on my table yesterday. A nice cream/jam filled scone and a cup of tea having taken the four paws out for a walk.


And lastly this week we have celebrated the last of our January birthdays.


Doesn't he look cute? Now I'd like to tell you he's just turned 3 but that was the age number one son was in the photograph. In reality he has just had his 27th birthday. How did that happen when I'm only 27 myself. Well that's where I am in my head it's not what I see when I look in the mirror of a morning can be quite a shock I can tell you.



At what age should you stop buying your son a card with Bart Simpson on it?

Have a good week one & all 

Mx


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Birthdays and Back to Work


First of all thank you to everyone to who left comments last week wishing me a speedy recovery


and all my birthday wishes.  Back in April last year when we went to Scotland I bought a lovely shawl and we searched for a Cairngorm  Brooch to put on it but to no avail.  D is has a keen eye for antiques and jewelry and he found this one for my birthday.  I hadn't expected it as he had bought me an iPad mini for Christmas so it was a lovely surprise and has already had an outing to show it off. 


Now I would like to say that I made this gorgeous Mocha cake but I'm afraid that would be a big fat fib. My lovely colleague and bookswapbud made it for my birthday and I have to tell you it was scrummy. Not sure that my baking talents are anything like hers but I will give it a go. 


Speaking of baking. Another colleague gave me this lovely cookery book and Laura Ashley measuring cup set.  She must have read my mind as I hadn't seen her since before Christmas so she didn't know that one of my 2015 challenges is to get back in the kitchen and bake. There are some lovely recipes in there and I am sure I will be attempting one as my challenge this year.


I got lots of lovely birthday cards too but I think this one just about says it all from my lovely friend and work colleague.


Now it's no secret in our house that I do rather like sheep but whilst catching up on my blog reading this week I was visiting Jo at Through the Keyhole and her blog this week was about some of her Yarndale gifts her husband had very sneakily bought for her for Christmas. One of the gifts was an apron from Quince Pie made in the same sheep fabric as another of my gifts. This lovely cushion was made by my very talented colleague Jacqui who is a wiz with a sewing machine.  She also helped me make my knitting sheep knitting bag in the top right of this collage.  My cushion is now residing on my bed as I am sure one of my little four paws would think it was just the right place for them to have a snooze.

Speaking of four paws and birthdays


Our little Rufus has also had a birthday this week and is now the ripe old age of 3. 

Have a good week one and all.

Mx











Monday, 12 January 2015

January make but not a bake.




Yesterday was my birthday and I have to say a big thank you to all of you who left comments on my previous post wishing me a Happy Birthday.

As I had been poorly for the best part of a week we decided that rather than going out for a meal this weekend we would postpone it to another time.

I love Italian food and have always enjoyed making it, but now it's just the three of us at home and with busy lives I don't always have the time,  or the inclination if I'm honest to get the cookery books out and make or bake something. 
One of my challenges for 2015 is to get back into the kitchen once a month and either bake or make something I have not made for a long time if ever.

when the big kids were still at home I used to make Tiramisu, which is a gorgeous Italian pudding or cake depending on which you make. 


D has been moving into his offices near to number 3's new school over the last week and was busy setting things up over the weekend, this will now reduce his travelling time to and from number 3's school,which when he works for yourself has a  big impact on his office based time.

Whilst D was out yesterday number 3 and I decided we would make Spaghetti Bolognese  for tea as it's his favourite and he enjoys helping to make it and thought we would make a nice pudding for after.

As I hadn't made Tiramisu for about  8 - 10 years we decided it was time for a revival of this lovely pud and between us we took photographs to show you and it also gave me the opportunity to fulfil my January challenge. 



Ingredients

6 egg yokes
6 tablespoons of caster sugar
750g Mascarpone Cheese
Vanilla Extract
Strong black coffee
shot of brandy
Boudoir Biscuits
Cocoa Powder

Serves 4-6

  1. Mix the eggs and caster sugar together until light and creamy.
  2. Add Mascarpone cheese mix until forms a custard type consistency.
  3. Add a few drops of vanilla extract
  4. Add the shot of brandy to the cold black coffee
  5. Dip each boudoir biscuit into the coffee/brandy and place into trifle dish or individual Sunday dishes.
  6. Add a scoop of the mascarpone mixture
  7. Keep alternating biscuit and mascarpone mixture, finishing with the mascarpone mixture.
  8. Leave in the fridge for an hour to set 
  9. Sprinkle with cocoa powder
  10. serve.

Why not give it ago I'm sure you won't be disappointed. 

Mx


Friday, 9 January 2015

Another year older

This weekend I will be turning another year older


I was born in the year of the big freeze, that lasted until March, in a village just outside of London, surrounded by woodland  near to RAF Stanmore, which sadly is no longer there.

I was named after Mitzi Gaynor the star of South Pacific. After two daughters I think my parents were thinking the odds were I may have been a boy and if that had been the case I would of been Michael rather than Mitzi. South Pacific was my mother's favourite musical at that time and hence I was named after the lead actress.  Most people tell me it's a lovely name. Personally I have never liked it and made sure when it came to having my own children they were given good sound names and not one that most poodles are given although with having such curly hair you could say there is a similarity.

Like a lot of families at that time our grandmother lived with us.  She was a big part of our lives and I have an abiding memory of her dressed in her pinny of many pockets. No matter what you needed it was bound to be in one of those pockets.

She was passionate about her dogs and used to breed Welsh Corgies.  I loved seeing those gorgeous little bundles. Sally was the Corgie bitch who was my absolute favourite,  
Rex was my nan's Chow with the blue tongue and he was like a big teddy bear.
The last dogs of my childhood were Tri Colour Shelties. Prince and Lassie, I think I was about 13 when they died and as my nan had also passed away by that time my mum couldn't bring herself to have anymore.

Both my mother and grandmother were professional seamstresses and I have fond memories of the two of them sitting one each side of the fire place sewing away from the early hours of the morning,

As young girls were went to ballet school and my mother and grandmother made all the costumes for any performances we did.  They made the most beautiful tutu's and spent hours sewing on sequins. 



 It was a time of Flower Power, The Beatles, Liberty Boddices (do any of you remember Libberty Boddices?) and of course the mini skirt.




The first group I ever liked was 'The New Seekers' and my poor dad had to take me to see them in concert. 
At nine years old I found my first love in Martyn Kristian, he still has a gorgeous smile don't you think.


In the 70's you were either a fan of The Osmonds or The Jackson Five. Our house was a little divided but I have to say I was in the Jackson Five Camp and again my poor dad got dragged a long to see them. Sadly I never got to see Michael in concert as an adult which will always be my one regret.


Of course tastes in music changed over the years.
I think at one point Stevie Nicks was my style icon, we were similar in height and had similar hair.



Speaking of hair. These days we have straighteners in order to straighten our hair.
When I was a teen and hair like Chrystal Tips me and my sisters used to iron our hair to get it to go straight.
If you were going out and wanted your sister to iron your hair for you, you definitely didn't do anything to upset them before hand or they just might take the iron a little too near to your scalp, accidentally on purpose of course.
The things we did in the name of vanity....

My second love was


my first car which was a Triumph Herald similar to this one and I called her Fifi.
She was beautiful and a means to independence for someone who lived in a village with only one bus an hour and none on Sundays.

So  I may be about to become another year older but I wouldn't say I was necessarily any the wiser but I hope you enjoyed joining me in my trip down memory lane.

Mx









Sunday, 4 January 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR LET THE 2015 CHALLENGES BEGIN



Hi everyone out there in blog land and to all my blogging friends.

This is my first blog of 2015 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Father Christmas bought you everything on your Christmas lists and may be even a few surprises.


I received some lovely gifts including lots more books to add to the bookshelf  a few have already found their way onto my Winter reads.
My good friend Lou bought me 'The Great Christmas Knit Off' by Alexandra Brown which I started on New Years Eve  I am already a good proportion of the way through.

Having some time off over the holidays has certainly given me time to relax and unwind and enjoy time to do a lot of reading as well as quite a lot of crafting.


Last year was my first year at taking on big crochet projects. I have been a knitter for 40+ years but crochet is still relatively new to me. 


I have however started on a new project just before Christmas which is for a very special birthday very soon. So more about that later.


I so enjoyed my challenges last year that I have set myself some new ones for 2015.  This idea came from Jo from Through the Keyhole and she has already been busy setting her challenges for 2015.


I've set myself three challenges for this year.

I used to bake a lot when the big kids were at home but now there is just the three of us I don't seem to bother so much these days.  I have some lovely cookery books containing lots of wonderful recipes. So my first challenge is to once a month bake or make something I've not made before. This will encourage me to get the cookery books off the shelf give them a dusting and find some interesting things to make for me and D on a weekend when I have more time

Last year I set myself to read books that I read at school some of which I liked and others I loathed. I still think my favourite is 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. So  my second challenge is to read some of the books I read as a child and those that I shared with the children.  My first read is going to be 'The Secret Garden'. Not only was this one of my favourites as a child it was and still is one of my daughter's favourites.

And so to my third and final challenge.  I used to do a lot of Cross stitch and I have several around the cottage.  I haven't started any new projects for some considerable time.  Having helped a colleague at work start her first ever cross stitch and making up a kit for another colleague for Christmas, reminded me how much enjoyment I got out of stitching away, especially when there is nothing much to watch on TV.  So I have started 'The Dark Sourceress' 


 Isn't she a beauty.  I do tend to like slightly unusual things and she is just my cup of tea.  
As I will be back at work from tomorrow my time will be limited but my 'Cross stitch Sundays' are back. I will do crocheting and knitting on and off during the week time permitting but Sundays will be reserved for my Cross stitch whether it be for 10 minutes or 1 hour or all day,  I will then update you at the end of each month as to how far I have got which will hopefully give me the incentive to keep going and as she is from a set of three if I complete the Dark Sorceress then I will just move onto one of the others. That should keep me busy for the next twelve months.

How about you have you set yourselves any targets or challenges for 2015?



Mx