Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Well !!! Goodgriefalmighty !!! They said the age of miracles was dead, but this morning, when I got back from shopping & was helping 'imself
 out of the car, a miracle happened right before my very eyes !!
*What ???* I hear you cry !! Well, hold on to your 'ats, cos here it comes:
A sucky-up-machine was only in my road, doing what a sucky up machine does best -
One of my neighbours came out at that very moment & crossed over in shock to tell me that she's lived in this road for 27 years & this is the FIRST time she's ever seen the drains cleaned out.
 A true miracle if ever there was one !! :o)
And just to prove it, here are some pics.
The sight that met my eyes :o)
Getting the sucky-up pipe thing in place.
Giving it a good ol' scrub & a suck :o)
A job well jobbed ? Well, we'll have to wait & see what happens
when it rains again :o)
Goodbye Mr. Sucky-Up-Men & thank you :o)
Let's just hope it isn't another 27 years before we see you again !! :o)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Christmas Cakes 2012 Part 1 :o)

I decided that today was going to be my Christmas-Cake-Making-Day :o) For the past couple of years, it's been a bit of a mad rush around the middle of November to get them made, what with one thing & another - the one thing being Shaun & the other being . . .  yep, you got it - Shaun :o)
Anyhoooo - I gathered together all the ingredients, tins, scales, stripy apron, well worn & grubby cook book etc. & set to :o)
 Top tip no. 1 - always soak your mixed fruit in brandy overnight. Not only does this plump up the fruit & help keep the cake moist,  when you take the cling film off the bowl, you get a nose full of boozy scrumptiousness that reminds you of Christmas :o) 

 Top tip no. 2 - Lining your tins :o) After you've drawn around your tin on greaseproof paper, fold the greaseproof in half to cut. You'll end up with a better shaped circle to line the bottom of the tin :o)
 I had 7 cakes to make today - one large one & 6 smaller ones.
 This really doesn't look very appetising, does it ? :o)
 But, once it's all creamed together & the flour & eggs have been added, it looks much better. I wonder what it'd taste like cooked just like this, with no fruit. I'll have to try it one day - if it tastes half as nice as it smells, I might be on to a winner :o)
 Bung in the mixed peel & glace cherries, along with a good slug of brandy. (Hic !!)
I don't drink, but I do love to make Christmas cakes that have the potential to be lethal !!! :o)
 Whack in all the booze soaked mixed fruit & hope to goodness your arm muscles are strong enough to mix, mix mix . . . dig down deep to the bottom & make sure all that fruit is mixed in thoroughly :o)
 The mix is so thick, the wooden spoon can stand up by itself :o)

 Cake mix poured into the tins & ready for the oven. A slight dip is made in the middle because we don't want the cake to rise to a point.
 The sun was shining brightly through the window, hence the golden glow :o)
 All that leaves is the washing up . . . . sighhhhhh . . .

Followed by top tip no. 3:

 A large cup of coffee & a couple of digestives :o)
Well, I think I deserved them after all that creaming & mixing !! :o)
Four hours later, here they are, all cooked to perfection. Well, almost :o)  The one at the back, on the left hand side seems to have done its own thing & risen a bit more on one side. But, not to worry :o)  When it comes to marzipanning, I'll just take a big knife & slice it level. However, before that can happen,  I need to make a few skewer holes in the bottom of each cake &  over the next week or 2, feed them some more brandy :o)
I must remember to tell the recipients to go easy on their medication for a few days before Christmas - I can't have them all high as a kite, can I ?!! :o)
Or can I ?? :o)  <cue evil cackle !!>
Part 2 when it's marzipan time :o) 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Sun a-rise . . early in the morning . . .

A short blog today - no words needed, really :o)
This was the view from my kitchen door at 6am this morning.

If only we could paint as beautifully as Mother Nature :o)

Friday, 5 October 2012

When Autumn Leaves Begin To Fall

The nights are drawing in, the early mornings & late afternoons are getting colder & this year, Autumn has arrived before Summer  :o)  If nothing else, it's reinforced that good old British tradition - moaning about the weather :o) It's all part of our charm &, like queueing, it's *what we do* :o)
There is beauty to be seen in every season, but Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the rich, deep colours of the trees & bushes, that *nip* in the air when you first step out of the house in the morning & lazy Saturday afternoons when the rain is pouring down & you can snuggle up on the sofa to watch a good film :o)
Because it's now Autumn, I thought I'd change the pic for my blog header-doobery-wotsit & the photo I chose is one of my favourites. I took it about 3 years ago in Russell Gardens, opposite Kearsney Abbey, on a wet Sunday morning :o) It just sums up Autumn for me :o)
However . . .
With Autumn, comes that slightly uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that Christmas is just along the road & round the corner. The feeling that, no matter how organised I am,  I am STILL going to fall headlong into a STATE OF PANIC !!!  Where will I find the time to make Christmas cakes, puddings, cards & presents ? What if I've forgotten someone ? Where can I hide things from the eagle eyes of a 4 year old who has already spotted Christmas bags on top of my wardrobe ?
 *Why are there Christmas bags up there, Grandma ? Is there anything for me up there ? Is there, Grandma ? Is there ? I'm REALLY trying to be a good boy, but it's hard . . * :o) 
I suspect  having a 2 year old brother doesn't help in the being-good-ALL-the-time stakes :o)
Knowing how I go so easily into full on panic mode, I've tried this year to do bits & pieces each month in preparation for Christmas. I've even resorted to taking my knitting with me to hospital appointments - I spend so much time in waiting rooms with himself, it seems a shame to sit & do nothing :o) I've made a few cards & next week, the cakes will be made. I don't like rich fruit cake, but the smell in the kitchen as the fruit is drowning soaking in brandy & then the cakes themselves being cooked, is just gorgeous :o)  Maybe I'll change the habits of a lifetime & try a slice. You never know, my taste buds may have altered since the last time I tried it :o)
My youngest grandson is probably the biggest Thomas the Tank Engine fan I've ever known :o) He can tell you which train is which, what the helicopter is called & all manner of other things about Thomas & his friends. So, with his train obsession in mind, this is the Christmas card I made for him the other day. Not Thomas, but I expect that's what he'll say when  he sees it :o)
I may be in a slight panic, but my list of things to do is getting shorter :o)
Below are some other Christmas cards I've made. As usual, some are rubbish but there is the odd one or two that I'm pleased with :o) I told myself that I had to practice my stamping & every Christmas card I've made so far has a stamped image.

I love this sleepy little mouse :o)

I made this card today when we were waiting for the District Nurse to come to see himself :o)
Choir Boy or Angel ?  I really like this stamp. It's clean & simple & came with a magazine last year, along with a fair few others.
 This stamp is from one of the Penny Black collection. I LOVE those stamps :o)
This snowman was in the same collection as the Choir Boy, I just stamped him 3 times :o)
From the same stamp collection, this lovely tree was stamped with clear embossing ink, sprinkled with gold embossing powder & heated with my heat gun. In *real* life, it looks pretty impressive.
 Another Penny Black stamp. I just love those little mice & hedgehogs :o)
This little bear was a stamp I got on a magazine a year or 2 ago.
 The little mouse & robin again.

 *Is that a Penny Black stamp ?* I hear you cry !! Well, yes. How did you know ??!! :o)
 Yes, another Penny Black stamp :o)
And lastly, the lovely Penny Black snowman again :o)
That's the beauty of stamps, you can use them time & again. Other people have a better imagination that I do & when they use the same stamp, they somehow manage to come up with something totally different each time, whereas I just get one idea lodged in my head & it's there for the duration :o)
BUT . . .
While I wait for inspiration to strike, I suppose I'd better get on with knitting the hoodie grandson 1a requested. Once I've done that, it's on to hoodie no. 2 for grandson no. 1b & a Christmas card for grandson 1a. Because, after all, that's what Grandma's - even those who, like me, are FAR too young to be this old - do, isn't it ? :o)