Monday, 31 March 2014

Cherry Cake and Sneaky Crochet

I realised the other day that the 'tag line' or whatever it's called for my blog is 'crafting, cooking, camping' and I have clearly been very biased towards the former!! Yesterday I decided to make my favourite cherry cake recipe, so thought I would share it here. I cannot for the life of me remember where I got it, but it's written down on one of those scraggy old bits of paper and in my recipe book. It's very easy (as most of my cooking tends to be!) and C loves it.

You will need:

200g Margarine (the recipe says butter, but I use flora to feel a bit more virtuous, it works fine but you probably won't need to add much milk at the end because of the higher water content)
150g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
225g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
100g Glace Cherries (I ignore this and do it by sight: I love cherries!!)

1. First of all the oven needs to be heated to 180 degrees (mine's a fan oven, so 160 for me). Cream together the marg and the sugar until it's fluffy and smooth. (The other benefit of the marg is it makes this stage SO much easier than butter... I don't even cheat and use the food processor!)

2. Next of all add the eggs separately and beat well to incorporate (mix looks gooey but this will soon be rectified :)

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix gently.

4. Favourite Bit! Add the cherries :) I coat mine in flour to try and stop them sinking, but this works to varying effect.

5. Fold cherries in gently and then add milk if required. Pour mixture into cake tin (I use an 18" silicone one from Lakeland). Bake in the oven for approx 55 mins. (Now this is the bit I find the hardest as my oven seems so unpredictable, I tend to set the timer for 45 mins and check every 10 mins thereafter. The original recipe says 1 hour 15 but mine would be burnt to a crisp by then!)

6. And Ta Dah! forgot to take a picture of the cake cooling so here it is all nestled up in its stylish (!) Roses tin.

Yum yum yum.

And in other news I neglected my firm promise to focus on more wedding crochet and started a new project. It's using this cowl pattern from the Fiber Flux blog, and I am going to use up some of the wool I bought that wasn't right for the blanket I'm working on... Here it is so far,

It crochets up really quickly so hopefully I will get it done soon!

Have a lovely week everyone!

Monday, 24 March 2014

And so it begins... Blanket Tales Part I

Help! I've been caught up in an addictive frenzy of square crocheting, determined to finish a blanket for a camping trip this year. Any spare moment, in work breaks, watching TV, on the train...

I've had a bit of yarn drama in that I ordered some off the internet thinking it would match the stuff I already had, but when it came it was not the same thickness at all! I guess 'chunky' isn't a one size fits all affair? Oh well, 8 more balls of wool for my stash :) (I already have a project in mind so am quite happy!)

And over the weekend (which was fairly busy) I managed 13 squares. Waiting for some more colours to arrive (this time I ordered the same brand, which would probably have been an amazing idea first time round!) so just two at the moment, but I'm so excited!

Just realised how many camper van themed drinking vessels we seem to have.... maybe a bit overly obsessed?!

I'm going to have to tear myself away from my squares however as today marks the 2 month count down to the *Big Day* so wedding crochet will have to take priority...

Have a lovely week everyone,

Helen x

Monday, 17 March 2014

My First Square

Just a quick note this time, I wanted to mark my first small step towards fulfilling my ulterior crochet motive (a warm colourful blanket!)

Feeling a bit groggy on Saturday I was left to my own devices, and having attempted numerous times to cast on a new bit of novice knitting I gave up and sought solace in crochet. I decided to try a solid square, using this pattern from the wonderful Little Tin Bird blog.

I got there eventually....

Although it took several attempts as my head was clearly slightly too groggy to follow a pattern!

Helen xx

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Catching Up

Catching up... so many connotations and so apt for this week! Catching up with friends, catching up with work, catching up with the pile of dirty laundry in my wash basket... and catching up with my blog of course!

It has been rather a manic week, a few days back at my parents, a few days at uni, and off to the in-laws-to-be for the weekend. Needless to say little time has been spent crafting, although I did manage to finish the scarf for C:

He's pleased with it, although did remark that it would have been better put to use a couple of months ago! I love the way the colours have come through, I've had some requests from other people so am going to get the other colour variations and start mass-making next year's Christmas presents ;)

The weather has been so beautiful this week, it's finally feeling like Spring! I've been enjoying the beautiful pictures on everyone's blogs, but sadly haven't managed to take any myself as I seem to be in a permanent state of chaos, dashing around. The best I could do is a clothes shot... I dug out my 'Spring' skirts and wore my favourite yesterday:

Slightly crinkled, but it always cheers me up :) Fingers crossed the weather stays with us for the weekend...

I managed to get a bit more cross stitch done, the baby is due at the end of April so I realised I needed to get a move on! The horse now has a mane and tail (almost!) but there's still a way to go. I'm going to try and sneak it into my weekend bag and snatch some stitching time if possible.

I also decided it was high time I did something with the mountains of crocheted hearts and flowers around the house. I'm not quite sure of the best way to join the flowers up, so I chained a row of double crochet, I think they're ok but might get some green ribbon and try that as well.

Well I think that's all for this week... Ooh apart from what I got up to Friday night, which was seeing Miranda Hart's stand up show in Nottingham.

The arena was sold out! I know that Miranda tends to be a bit like marmite, but I love her! She was really really good and everyone laughed a lot!

And on that happy memory off I go to pack for the weekend and 'catch up' with my washing.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Woolly times and what to do with it?

Moving stuff around to make space for the guys who came to fit the new boiler I finally put all of the wool I have gradually accumulated together, and... well it looked quite a lot to me!

Especially considering I am very much a beginner and haven't completed many projects! I seem to just keep buying odd colours here and there so don't have a substantial amount of any one colour. There are also several different types of wool.

I'm still making flowers and hearts for the wedding so that will use some of it, but I've started searching for some project ideas that will help me use some up - small projects not requiring vast quantities of wool (and suitable for novices!). And there are so many ideas out there! From so many talented and creative people. I've rounded up some of my favourites...

1. These colourful pencil pots would look great on my desks at home and in the office - and I can see it really would just require a little bit of each colour!

2. A coffee cosy would be wonderful for my many hurried cups of caffeine on my travels

3. I love love love these hexagons, so many possibilities: cushion covers, blankets etc

4. A kindle cover would keep a much treasured possession safe and snug in the vast vacuum of my handbag

5. I've always wanted a winter Head Band

6. To practice my knitting tension, and to benefit a really good cause I think knitted squares for charity will be a must.

Does anyone else have any go-to stash busting patterns? What do you do with your extra bits of wool?

Once I've finished C's scarf I shall embark on something new :) The scarf is looking great. Excuse the poor photo quality, the light is terrible in my house at the moment as the builders outside have put plastic sheets over the windows... I'm going to have to buy an extra ball of wool, it's a King Cole Chunky, as C is rather tall and probably therefore merits more scarf. Of course I'm rather tempted to just keep it for myself as it is as I've fallen in love with it, but I'm going to be good!

If this is what a simple treble stitch can work up as I am so excited about venturing further with crochet!!!

My only problem has been joining new balls of wool - does anyone have a trusted technique? My attempts have been a bit clumsy thus far....

Helen x

Monday, 3 March 2014

Monday, Monday

Why does the weekend always fly by so quickly! Compared to the Monday-Wednesday stretch Saturdays and Sundays seem to whizz by in the blink of the eye. Busy week ahead, new boiler, trip to Manchester for career event and then some time at uni as well makes for slightly manic first week of March. We need to move a lots of furniture before the boiler arrives... we seem to accumulate so much stuff! Sadly several bookshelves need to be hoofed around so will need to find storage for what seems like several tonnes of books and other oddities. Sigh.

We went back to my parents for the weekend which was lovely. Slightly manic in terms of dashing around and doing some wedding things, but I got to see my family and Charlie, our dog. He's getting on a bit now, and is more of a dignified old gent than the young scamp he used to be but still adorable!

Whilst watching the final Batman film with the folks I had a slightly crazy crochet run and got a load of hearts done. I still haven't managed to make any wreaths up (boo) but have started on some other colours so making (slight) progress.

We then had a relaxed Sunday night at home, which felt rather like the calm before the storm. We had 2 needy cats waiting for us (they really don't like it when we're away) so just sat on the sofa and watched the last episode of Wallander, a really good BBC adaptation of a Swedish detective series. I used the opportunity to try and get a bit more of the baby cross stitch done as with being away a lot in the coming week I probably won't manage to. Bella cat was very offended I wasn't giving her my attention so came and lay on my magazine but I still made some progress. The horse is starting to take shape now and I love the way it grows as you add the extra shades.

I've also reached the end of the ball of wool I was using for my scarf - time for me to learn how to switch wool whilst crocheting, might be interesting but we will see!

Helen x