Wednesday, November 26, 2008


No knitting content in this post I'm afraid. This is mainly a picture shoot for Claudia ;-) (and anyone else that wants to see how you bake a 'Christmas Cake'.

Ready to get started....

My little helper . . . look at the concentration on her face!

Kristen helped crack the eggs and weigh out all the fruit . . . but the best part for her was licking the spoon, or in this case the whisks!

She took this picture of me, just to show I 'helped' too . . .

Ready for the oven. . . .

And here's my cake out of the oven (upside down in this pic, as I'd just poured a tablespoon of brandy in to the holes I made on the bottom)

So now we 'feed' the cake each week (which is adding a tablespoon, or more, in to the holes on the bottom of the cake). Next week I'll cover the cake with marzipan, which will not effect the feeding, then a few days before Christmas I will decorate it with icing.

Claudia, fyi - I baked my cake for 3 hours at 225 like the recipe said, but after 3 hours it was very 'uncooked'! so I turned up the heat to 275 and baked a further 45 minutes. I was worried it might still be undercooked when I took it out of the oven that night, but the next day it was very firm to the touch. . . . so of course now I'm worried it's over cooked! Time will tell ;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions.

Still no 'mojo' but I thought I better post or you'll think I've dropped off blogland - and if you think that, then you might stop coming by to 'read' me! And I wouldn't want that to happen.

Despite having new sofas I've still not felt in the mood for knitting. I was busy painting in the living room and kitchen last week and also planning a birthday party for my soon to be 8 year old little princess (yeah, not so little any more!). The party was at our house yesterday and it all went well. We had just a few friends over and we had a bouncy castle in the back yard.

With no knitting to show you I thought I would post about 'Christmas Traditions' as suggested over at Amanda's blog earlier this week.........

..... this is my 'tradition'! Dried Fruit? Well not exactly. A Christmas Tradition for us in England is making 'Christmas Cake' - otherwise known over here as 'Fruit Cake'. OK, stop laughing!

When I first came to the US (10 years ago) I was shocked when I heard how fruit cake gets such a bad rap. I was once told there is only one fruit cake in the US, because everyone who recieves it will wrap it up and mail it on to someone else! I have to say, when I saw what fruit cake in the store over here I wasn't surprised at that joke. It's a much lighter 'cake' here, but in England our fruit cake is very dark and filled with a lot more fruit.

My mom used to make a Christmas cake every year when I lived at home. The tradition (for a lot of families) is to make the cake at least a month before Christmas and then 'feed it' in the following weeks so that it's nice and moist when you cut in to it on Christmas day. When I say 'feed it' I mean adding a spoonful of brandy or sherry each week until the big day. HERE'S a little history on the English Christmas Cake.

I am happy to say that this year I have found a lovely knitting friend who wants to join me in baking a cake :-) The lovely Claudia didn't laugh when I told her about my 'tradition'. In fact she told me she loves fruit cake and has made her own in the past. I shared with her this year a recipe I have a from a friend that worked really well for me, and we've both planned on making one together and even sending each other a slice of our own cakes to try :-) I'm really excited about this. And so the big day looms. . . . I have my ingredients all gathered and one day next week I plan on making the cake. The other tradition I told Claudia about is that I have to have Christmas songs playing while I bake and the 'cook' (that's me) has to have a glass of her favorite drink poured (usually a glass of wine).

Now, if there's any other 'fellow Brits' out there in knitting land that would like to join our Christmas 'bake-along', please do so, and of course let us know via your blog if you can, or leave me a note here :-)

One other thing before I go, I just want to say Thank You to Nicole. I was the lucky winner in her blog competition a few weeks ago and I received my prize last week. Her beautiful alpaca 'Toasties'.

Nicole took much nicer pictures, but here's my toasty arm inside of one. Thanks again Nicole.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Have you seen it. . . .

. . . my knitting Mojo? I seem to have lost it this week! I know the reason why too - I'm having a new sofa delivered tomorrow, so last weekend I sold my old sofas and since then my living room has been rather bear. We have one 'basket' chair (from Pier1, and similar to THIS) which is sort of comfortable, but not really! And we have hubby's old recliner, which is a tad more comfortable than the chair, but still not... ya know!

So because I don't really have anywhere 'cozy' to sit right now I think that's why I've not really picked up my needles much. I'm hoping all that will change tomorrow when the sofa, which has a chaise at one end and a reclining seat at the other, is delivered. I look forward to a weekend of putting my feet up and relaxing ;-)

I ordered two new knitting books from Amazon last week, which were delivered really quickly even though I'd opted for free shipping.

I think I can honestly say that other than knitting, one of my other passions is collecting knitting books! I know I'm not alone when I say this - I've seen some of your 'libraries' on Ravelry, so don't try to deny it! . In fact my little collection looks quite tiny to some in comparison! I love browsing through knitting books and reading the patterns. Even if I have no intention of knitting the said garmet. It's 'reading' about 'knitting' what could be better than that?

So what do I think of these two new books? I have to be honest and say with the Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders, well I'm a little disappointed in it. There's not a lot in there that I think I'd knit, but that's really just at first glance. I think I need to browse through it very slowly and take a really good look at it. With the Mason Dixon book, again, I'm not sure how much stuff I'd knit in it. The first book from what I can remember seemed to have a lot more stuff I'd like to do, but I haven't gotten that book yet, I just loaned it from the library one time.

I must say that one of my favorite things in this book that immediately caught my eye was the 'Jane Austin' dress and shrug. Oh, these look SO pretty, and I just love pretty girly things. I definitely will have to knit some of these and get out my new (and hardly used) sewing machine next year. I say next year because come January I will be planning on what I'm going to make for gifts for that Christmas. Yes, call me crazy but my intentions will be good and I'll want to start planning right away. I always feel like that just after the holidays, then after a couple of months my good planning usually goes by the wayside!

But aren't these just adorable? The fabric and yarn color choices will be endless. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has knit them on Ravelry yet?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I usually only share 'knitting content' on this blog because I post our 'daily life' on my other 'daily' blog! But I thought I would start sharing some other stuff other than just knitting here, because... well I feel like I've come to know some of you as really good friends, and... well, I really just want to share :-) (plus it means you don't have to read two blogs!).

So here's my little 'princess' having a fun time last night (with the other kids in the cul-de-sac).

Kristen is the Pikachu with the Boo bag! I splashed out and bought the 'hard to come by' costume on Ebay, only to find out later her friend's mom two doors away made her costume - now why didn't I think of that? Oh yeah, I was too busy knitting ;-)

Let me just say that in all her 7 years my little 'princess' has never actually dressed up as a princess for Halloween! Her first Halloween at age 11 months I dressed her as Winnie the Pooh with a big pumpkin belly, oh, ok I'll show you the picture. . . . .

How cute is that?! The following year when she was 2 yrs old, I took her to the Disney store and let her pick a costume. I tried to steer her towards the princess outfits but she ended up going straight to Tiggr! And since then it's been dogs, more dogs, batgirl, scooby doo and now Pikachu.

I'll say one thing, it sure is fun waiting to see what she wants to be each year :-) I hope you all had a fun and safe evening last night too.