Saturday 26 December 2009

Happy Boxing Day

Christmas is done with for another year. I always get a little bummed right afterwards because it's such a long time until it's Christmas again, and I'll have to take down the lights and everything; but it doesn't last long because I'm usually quite excited at the prospect of a new year. A whole new decade, this time, too! I can't believe 10 years has passed since the millenium. There have been loads of programs on about "the noughties"....well, one....I can't believe DVDs were invented this decade. They've surely been around forever!

Anyway. I make this every Christmas for Boxing Day breakfast, and can never find the recipe and have to trawl back through pages of thread on a forum I no longer participate in to get it every year, so I am posting it here once and for all. It's terribly indulgent and I only allow myself to make it at Christmas, but it's so good!

Blueberry Bread & Butter Pudding

1¼ cups milk
1 cup double cream
4 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
6 croissants
1 cup blueberries

Beat together all the ingredients apart from the croissants and blueberries. Layer the croissants in the crockpot. Six or eight is right for my size of crockpot. Sprinkle over the blueberries, I usually tuck some between the croissants too. Pour over the liquid. Leave for a while until the custard has soaked in a bit. I leave mine overnight with a timer plug. Bake for around 4 hours on low until all puffy and delicious.

I hope you all had a lovely festive season, readers. My next post will be number 200 on this blog! I think I got to number 100 in April or May and said then I hoped it wouldn't take me as long to get to 200. It has not. I think it's safe to say I am well back on the blogging track.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Domestic Goddess Day

I have decided I love Sundays in the holidays. I have spent today doing all dom.god. things and haven't felt bad about not doing any school work at all.

Here's what I've been doing -

Bad phone camera picture, sorry.

The Mango Chutney is from a recipe in Delia Smith's Winter Collection. I love Delia. She has had a huge impact on my cooking over the years. For example, I eschew ready chopped mixed peel in a tub in favour of whole candied peel I cut myself. She rocks, and I blame Nigella entirely for her demise. Anyway, this mango chutney is the bomb. It's way better than what one buys in the shops. I am just gutted I have to wait 8 weeks for it to mature.

The lemon curd is from this recipe. I am typing it out because I have a fear of the link going dead -

4 lemons, zest and juice
1lb caster sugar
4oz butter
6 eggs

Beat the eggs and add all the other ingredients (I add the finely grated zest instead of putting in strips of peel and fishing them out later - it ends up with a slightly mealy texture, but I like it like that). Put in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. The sugar and butter will melt, and eventually the lemon curd will thicken up nicely and then you put it in a big sterilised jar. The one I used is a 2lb jar.

Then I made peanut butter cookies to this recipe -

8oz butter
1 and a half cups dark brown sugar (I subbed this for the light brown in the recipe as it was all I had)
1 and a half cups peanut butter
1 egg
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Chocolate chips - but I used some PB M&Ms I brought home from the US in the summer

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and PB, then add the flour and baking powder to make a dough. Add the chocolate chips and chill for an hour. Roll the dough into small balls and put on a greased baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees C for 16-18 mins.

Finally, I made some experimental Christmas cupcakes. They are a clementine version of lemon drizzle, filled with a cardamom-infused ganache. I am not overjoyed because I think the cake batter needs a bit more citrus kick - I wish I had some orange oil or something - and the chocolate seized a bit when I poured the cream over it for the ganache so it's not perfect. But not bad for a first try.

I found out today that Father Hand has a cancerous tumour on his kidney. He's having surgery on January 18th. I am less concerned than I probably should be, but the prognosis is good.

Friday 18 December 2009

Fave Friday

5 Favourite Things About Me

1. I don't get hangovers. It was the work Christmas do last night. I drank a vast quantity. By all rights I should still be suffering, but I am just tired. I slept all afternoon. That was it, though.

2. I have an excellent memory. Not short term - I regularly forget what I'm saying halfway through a sentence. But the rest of my memory is great. I think it might be because I have kept diaries (or this blog) from the age of 12. Writing things down helps me remember them.

3. I have great hair. I do. I always have. It's long and in good condition, and it does what I want it to do. Plus, only one grey so far and I think I will be lucky and it will keep its colour late, like Mother Hand and her mum.

4. I'm flexible. I think it's because I did so many dance classes as a kid (this also helps me to pick up dance steps quite quickly...). It's not really useful, but I get the feeling that if I practised often, it wouldn't be long before I could do the splits again.

5. I'm a quick study. I pick things up quickly...except maths.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Tuesday Ten

No, I'm not dead. I had the annual KS4 weekend away this weekend past which was amazingly fun and very low maintenance but required me to be absent from my home for a few days, and last week I was out every night, so blogging time has been in short supply. Blogger is on the work blocklist and I could access it through the unfiltered proxy but I have a sneaking suspicion that is more closely monitored and anyway I'd have to use IE. BLERGH.

But anyway.

So, I found out that I stole Tuesday Ten from another blog I read but that it is actually a big blog thing thing and there is a weekly Ten on Tuesday topic posted over here. So, I have stalked the blog for the past few days waiting for the topic and slightly relieved I didn't have to think up my own topic; only, it has not been updated. BOO.

Ten Things That Made Me Happy/Laugh This Week

1. Sweet, sweet karma.
My year 13s told me off about laughing at this but I couldn't stop, in spite of the fact somebody got really ill and that's in no way funny. I don't know if humans are responsible for climate change, but climate change IS happening and the fact that this guy went to a climate change conference, said it was rubbish and then had a heart attack....well. I found it funny.

2. This new pattern on Knitty.
I had a little fake moustache pattern that you put on your finger in my queue for a while, but I like this better. Funny!

3. This article on TreeHugger
(TreeHugger has had a lot of reading from me so far this week)
It's making me want to plan a whole new camping trip to the US, although I can't make it a reality until 2012, thanks to other holiday plans.

4. Getting a Christmas card from Australia. It was from my friend Beccy and her new husband Ian. I couldn't figure it out.

5. Fixed chair. My armchair has had broken springs for as long as I can remember and required me to sit on 2 cushions and 2 blankets and it was STILL low. Then Mr Z fixed a computer for an upholsterer. Today my chair returned, good as new.

6. New pattern. I knitted cabled beaded wrist warmers, based on a pattern I made up as a new knitter, and they turned out lovely. I am going to write the pattern up and put it on here. I might even get to keep them, because I made them as a secret Santa gift for somebody at work who had opted out of secret Santa.
They were my weekend FO for this week but I haven't had time to make a post. Maybe tomorrow?

7. It's almost the end of term. And Ofsted didn't come in. But the governors did, to ask us how we thought school was going. That was a long meeting. I got a lot off my chest. Very cathartic.

8. Baths. Lush. Especially at this time of year.

9. Seeing friends. We had a ski trip staff meal last Wednesday and I had Ali and Parpy Jo over on Sunday for Chinese and X Factor. It really makes me more relaxed for the rest of the week.

10. Scrabble games that aren't Scrabble. I learnt speed Scrabble and anagrams at the weekend, which are both played with Scrabble tiles but no board. I killed at both of them. I am a Scrabblemeister. I wish that was cool....

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Proud owner

I said it would be mine! And, in fact, it panned out pretty much as I said it would on Friday...

Posted by ShoZu

Monday 7 December 2009


1 Thing I am knitting which I said I never would

I was seduced by the sparkly, seasonal sock yarn in GK at the weekend and had to buy it. I was the first person there who wanted the red, and there was only one ball left, so I got it. I have had to cast it on already because it didn't seem fair to take the last ball of red and then not knit socks with it.

And besides, as you see, it is yarn made to be socks. (It's not mouldy, btw, that's just a leftover whisp of Jade Sapphire cashmere which was in the project bag).

I am doing the simple ribbed sock pattern which is NOT toe-up, despite my (extremely arrogant, considering I have never previously knitted socks) insistence on this being the best method. I just wanted to get going and this was a simple pattern, freely available. It does remind me a little of my old ribbed grey school socks, but wth - it's retro.

3 things I need to finish knitting by Christmas

1. Sam's hat. Assistant head at school asked for a hat in her rugby team's colours last year. She's leaving at the end of term. It is now an urgent concern.

2. Secret Santa gift for work. I am knitting some beaded wrist warmers, based on a pattern I made up when I started knitting. I knitted the original out of Debbie Bliss navy cotton angora which (a) didn't show up the cabling at all and (b) had no stretch to it, which is why I am talking about the original in the singular, since I never made the second one. I never wrote down any instructions, either. But I'm using plum coloured Kid Classic by Rowan and silver beads, and have enough sense now to be knitting the beaded stitches TBL on the next row, which saves a lot of shuffling beads about.

3. Parpy Jo's scarf. I finally got over myself and started adding the knitted on border at knitting group on Saturday, and it's really not as scary as I suspected it would be, although I did have to buy some sharper DPNs. I don't know why, since I could hav just used any old needle - it dosn't need DPNs. But oh well.
Parpy Jo has returned from her Russian holiday afianced (hurrah!), and I am seeing her next Sunday, so this one is the most pressing of them all.

5 things I want to bake over the holiday period

1. Delia's mincemeat nut strudel. YUM.

2. Something with chestnuts and chocolate. Chocolate chestnut cheesecake, probably. Or chocolate chestnut trifle.

3. St Clement's roulade. I can't even remember where the recipe for this comes from, which may prove to be an issue. It is some sort of citrus sponge, filled with lemon curd, passion fruit and cream. It is very tasty.

4. Blueberry bread and butter pudding in the slow cooker. Made with double cream and croissants. This is so deacadent and calorie crammed that I really can't justify making it any other time. I looked forward to it all year. It's best made overnight ready for Boxing Day.

5. Christmassy cupcakes. I would like to do some experimenting and come up with a really Christmassy blend. I am thinking, lots of spices, a cranberry filling, and an icing flavoured with Liquid Christmas spirit (the name of which escapes me's Czech, and in a blue bottle with a yellow label).

Sunday 6 December 2009

Christmas wishlist

The time has come for unashamed materialism. Here is my list for Santa. I have been relatively good this year.

(with apologies to Amazon, because I appear to have pinched quite a lot of links from their website).

Notebooks with cherry-print covers - I have been googling, but can't find anything. I have found a lot of cherry blossom print...not quite the same, though.

Wrap Style, by Pam Allen. I've become somewhat obsessed with the Shetland Triangle, but I can't allow myself to buy any more pattern books until I knit something out of the last two I bought.

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. And Superfreakonomics, which is along the same lines....I loved the first Freakonomics.

Silicone bakeware. Especially a bundt "tin". This makes baking so, so easy - no greasing, no lining, no need for loose bottomed tins, easier to store....

Scrabble. I will probably end up buying this for myself though, because I want it for the AG&T weekend in the middle of December. My sixth formers have strongly suggested I trawl the local charity shops before buying a new one, so I think this will be my weekend task.

Some more Jade Sapphire 6-ply cashmere. Having knitted the Tudora in this, I now want something for myself.

Fancy make up brushes from MAC - especially a concealer brush.

The box set of Big Love season 3, which seems like it's never going to air over here, not even on channel 5. Though a cursory google suggests it's not out to buy yet.

An Oliver Bonas jewellery stand. And, in fact, quite a lot of their jewellery to put on it.

A new lava bulb for my lava lamp.

A red and white polka dot stair runner. Mr Z has suggested it and now I can't stop thinking about it.

This lovely, but expensive, garnet brooch. It is vintage, two crescent moons side by side. I have been looking at it for a while now, but it seems a little silly to shell out that much dosh for it, because I am not terribly good at remembering to put brooches on.

That's all I can think of for now. I think that is probably enough...

Friday 4 December 2009

Post script

The car, or Henry The Wondrous Car of Miracles as it shall hereafter be known (until it breaks again), was indeed waiting for me when I arrived home. The bill was a bit eye watering (coincidentally about the same as I was going to spend on Mr Z's Christmas present...) but the mechanic said he had no idea how it was still going, since the clutch had basically disintegrated. He said he wished he had taken pictures.


Fave Friday

Five Favourite Things About This Week

1. My vest and knitted scarf collection. The time has come for a nice cosy vest under whatever I'm wearing, and a big thick scarf wrapped round my neck. Lion & Lamb really has come into its own this week, as have the thrummed mittens I made last year (and then had to rescue after I stupidly took them dry skiing). And the new green hat.

2. Little coursework surprises from my naughtiest year 11s. I love it when they turn up, looking all proud of themselves, and give me their late essays.

3. Sour Strawbs. Having recently discovered Haribo Strawbs, I found a sour version in the (fantastically overpriced) garage local to work. They were worth the money. Not quite as sour as Malaysian sour Skittles - which apparently made a PE teacher cry, the mouth of one of the Malaysia trippers go numb for several hours, and Father Z's face fold in on itself, so sour are they - but a good level of mouthwatering regardless.

4. The Hairspray Soundtrack. As I trudged across the sodden field in the icy wind on break duty yesterday, chasing off smokers, it was the only thing that kept me from crying with exhaustion and self-pity.

5. Henry getting his death rattle fixed. I might be over-optimistic about this, because I am still at work, waiting for Vicky to get back from a school trip and drive me home - but he certainly went in this morning to have fixed the scary rattling which sounds every time the clutch is depressed, and I haven't had any phone calls saying he won't be back today. None too soon, either, since the clutch had started to grate yesterday. I had another tense drive home. I hope it was caused by the original problem, and the clutch isn't finally going. I have a tax bill and Christmas to pay for this month!

A NOT favourite thing this week is discovering Scattergories is out of print, or whatever you call it when a game is discontinued. The US version is still out there but has difficult categories like "US State Capitals" on it. I have developed a minor obsession with this game, since it's absolutely perfect for keeping at school for 5 minutes of downtime (ie, parents evenings) and everybody enjoys it. We use John & Lou's set (they come skiing and brought it for the bus and we really annoyed the teachers from the other school by playing it loudly for most of the daylight hours we were travelling) but I have set my heart on owning one for myself.

I have been looking around but second hand sets are going for crazy money - nearly £50 for a 21 sided dice, a crappy timer and a few cards? No thanks. I love it so much, though.....I will craftily hit up the charity shops tomorrow, but then probably frantically bid on ebay.

And, if I'm true to form, I will win, pay nearly £50, play it half a dozen times this month and then put it in the cupboard with Cranium, Monopoly and the other games I bought and never play.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Tuesday Ten

Ten Things I Would Like To Achieve before 2010

1. I want my Ravelry queue (92 items) to be smaller than my projects page (87). I would like to achieve this without deleting 5 items from my queue.

2. I will get over my irrational fear of the knitted join and add the border to Parpy Jo's scarf, and I will do this in the next fortnight, so that I can finally give it to her.

3. Knit the same Parpy Jo a hat for Christmas, that she has been hankering after.

4. Write some Christmas cards. I stopped several years ago, expecting that after a year or two people would stop sending them to me, but this has not worked and I just have teh guilt. I am putting a limit on it, though. 20, I think.

5. Knit a gift for my Secret Santa (isn't it weird how a lot of these goals relate to number 1?) This year I have drawn one of the textiles teacher, and her entire degree was in knitting. Oh crap. BUT she has never held a knitting needle in her life! It was all machine knitting. So some handwarmers are probably going to be just the ticket.

6. Mark all exercise books before the end of term and plan the first week of lessons for January, so I can relax over the holidays and just concentrate on writing new schemes of work and maybe some coursework marking.

7. Maintain my current weight. I may as well ask the fish to stop swimming, I fear.

8. Write my New Year's Resolutions in a findable place. I have just spent 20 minutes trawling fora, looking for them. No luck yet.

9. Print photographs (especially wedding pictures) and get them into albums and onto walls.

10. Receive many compliments on my new hat.

I have tired hamster face tonight.

Much better view.

Pattern: Star-crossed Slouchy Beret by Natalie Larson (free Rav download).
Yarn: Knitpicks Andean silk I got in a US/UK yarn swap; it is LUSH. It's much greener than the picture suggests. Kind of like, a dark jade.
Needle: 8mm Knitpicks circ
Mods: I knit the brim as a 2x2 rib because, honestly, who has time for a 1x1 at this time of year? I unintentionally used the same size needle for the ribbing as the rest of the hat, so it's not as snug as I would like, but it hangs off my head really nicely and it's superwarm. And it went so quick. Four hours, max.

As predicted, I had to scrape my car for the first time this morning, but the rain has set in again this evening which is what the hat is REALLY useful for. I want to knit another one right this second, but I really must do the lace scarf border. How badly can it go?