Monday, 31 January 2011

From cold to cosy and loving every minute

My legs ache.  My bum aches.  But it was worth it.

We're just back from a long weekend in the Peak District.  We stayed in an uber-comfortable cottage with a couple of friends of ours and had the most lovely time.  We did a huge walk every day, up hill and down dale, making sure we were back by dusk for showers and snoozes, wine and music (Madeleine Peyroux, Roberta Flack, Hafdis Huld... just gorgeous) before heading to the pub - next door! - for dinner.  It was A Perfect Weekend.  Exhausting but relaxing all at the same time.  

There is a lot I love about walking and I particularly like being out in the cold.  What I like most is the way that a long walk enhances everything for me: a flask of coffee by a frosty stream seems such a treat and a ham salad baguette tastes delicious when it's eaten at the top of a huge hill I've just huffed, puffed and grumbled my way up!  When I get back, a hot shower feels like actual hydro-therapy and a 5pm snooze is the very height of luxury.  

We have made a pact to walk more.  The dog was particularly interested in this news.

To top off our perfect weekend, we came home to the two wood-burning stoves we had fitted on Monday and hadn't been able to use yet.   We were dying to get home and light those babies! 

So here I am, sitting in my living room beside my new best friend.  I look over at her dreamily every twenty minutes or so and want to cover my husband with kisses for splashing out on this most fabulous thing for us. Our lovely little freezing-cold stone cottage is finally, properly, warm!

I'm going to top up my bucket of tea and start a flat crochet circle again, for extra practice. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cakes, steaks and crochet

So, it was my niece's 2nd birthday on Friday and because I enjoy baking I have bagsied the annual job of providing the birthday cake.  This year I was going to make a farmyard scene from a book by my favourite cake decorator, Ms Parrish, but I left everything to the last minute and had to opt for something a little more straight-forward.  So I freestyled and plumped for teddy bears wearing party hats:

The cake is a Madeira with just a buttercream and strawberry jam filling.  I always find Madeira cake a bit dry but there's no denying that it is easy-peasy to work with and lasts a while if stored properly.  I covered the whole thing in pink sugarpaste with a border of marshmallows (I know! but my niece loves them).

To jazz it up I made a couple of little teddy bears and wove a basket of sugarpaste which I filled with dolly mixture sweets and smarties.  

I baked the cake and iced the board on Friday night and spent yesterday afternoon decorating, hardly coming up for air.  I am pleased with how it turned out but so wish I didn't leave everything to the last minute.  (I am always with everything in my life and cause myself so much unnecessary stress!  I get on my own nerves so I'm sure the OH must despair of me.)  There are a few minor things which could have been neater if I'd given myself more time. Still, my niece was enchanted by the little bears and that's the main thing.  She was so cute trying to blow out the candles.

I've only made a few celebration cakes before and I always find it difficult when the knife goes in and evidence of MY WHOLE SATURDAY! is chopped into slices and handed round on plates ... was practically biting my knuckles when Pa picked up the basket (eeeek! that took me an hour!) and bit into the handle.  Ha! 

In other news; a spontaneous dinner out with the OH on Thursday night for wine and steak was a lovely treat, Wii Party last night with my step-son was hilarious and I feel like I'm getting somewhere with the crochet.  I have only managed to produce a tiny piece of work so far (looks like a scarf for a mouse) but it is recognisably crochet and that's a massive thing for me.  Huge thanks to the ladies who have put crochet tutorials on their blogs; it's you that I'm learning from.   You rule.

So, time to pack up the laptop and prepare for another busy week:  a couple of woodburners fitted tomorrow (yay!) and a long weekend in the Peak District for lots of walking and wine.  I am also starting yoga again tomorrow night after a long period off and can't wait.  



Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Hurrah for football!

One of our local teams is playing tonight and the OH rushed home, ate chips, and rushed out again to go and support.  He won't be back til at least 10:30 he says.

So it's just the dog and me.

I have been feeling generally rubbish for a while now; have had a particularly disgusting cold with a hacking cough which has woken me up almost every night for the last six weeks.  I'm exhausted.  So a night in front of the telly with the pooch and a crochet hook is just what the doctor ordered.  

I've already 'met' two lovely ladies here at blogger who have gorgeous blogs of their own but have also directed me to some other really inspiring and helpful crochet sites.  I had a little browse earlier this evening and will spend a while here and here until I've mastered the basic stitches required for a granny square. (NB: mental note to follow 'Do You Mind If I Knit' - another lady who rules.)

Am truly thrilled that there is so much great stuff on the web - it has been impossible to find a crochet teacher locally and none of my friends or family (of any age) know how to do it.  (Well that's a slight exaggeration.  Mum, who hasn't crocheted since before I was born, has dug out her old hooks and is having a little go so that she can help me to learn.  Good old Ma, I do love her.)

Making a cake for my niece's 2nd birthday this weekend so relaxing while I can.  Come Friday evening I'll be covered in icing sugar and swearing like a sailor over fiddly little sugarpaste farm animals.


Sunday, 16 January 2011

My first post and I'm kind of shy!....

Well I've finally started my own blog!  It's weird; I feel like a gatecrasher at a party wondering if I can sneak in and get myself a glass of wine without being too conspicuous.

Took ages to choose the name for my blog.  I think I may be taking it all a bit too seriously - I've really just started this to force myself to take a step back and reflect on the great things in my life.  I work full-time and seem to rush from one thing to the next without really taking notice of what's going on around me.  I have been learning to decorate cakes for just over a year now and I have been meaning to make a journal of my progress for a while.  So this it is.  I promise I'll be more interesting tomorrow.