Friday 31 August 2012

Fave Friday


This is a Mason Cash mixing bowl. It is one of a set of three which I believe are limited edition to mark the Queen's Jubilee - this one, to be precise. Around the bowl it says "Let them eat cake" which I love. A lot. In this picture it contains a large quantity of pink buttercream icing I made for my friend Phillipa's hen party: we played "Ice the Wedding Cake" with predictably hilarious results.

I succumbed and bought the white one too, which says "God save the cream"; I was only able to resist the blue because (a) I knew Mr Z would give me his trying-not-to-be-horrified-at-yet-another-piece-of-kitchen-equipment-and-failing look (which I don't mind, it keeps me from buying too much), (b) my kitchen is red, black and white, with a pink fridge, and not requiring any more colours in it, (c) it says "Off with her bread" and I don't really make bread, and (d) I really didn't need it.

The red and white ones look splendid on my shelf. I was a bit disappointed when I used it with my electric whisk and it marked the bowl, but a quick Google found this to be a widespread problem and I thought, well, these things are meant to be used, aren't they?

Monday 27 August 2012

Weekend FO

McClane the Lobster


Pattern: Knit Lobster
Needle: 3.75mm
Yarn: Cascade in Christmas Red
Mods: None, really, except that I stuffed it with catnip.


The cat is a fan.

This has been in my queue for ages and I had some leftover red yarn that wasn't enough for the felted flowers project I'm working on, so I got started and was finished...well, it took a week, but that was really only because I didn't have any stuffing and so couldn't move onto the claws. He's named McClane, though, because I knitted almost all of him during a screening of Die Hard 2 (never having seen it, I was horrified that it didn't match up to the cheesy classic that is Die Hard).

Great pattern - very straightforward and very quick. Cute, too!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Sunday Baking: White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

I've been having a love-in with raspberries this summer. Well, berries of all kinds really - but especially raspberries. Raspberries are Mother Hand's favourite berries and in the past I have given them a bit of a wide berth, thinking they were too seedy. They're not. I was thinking of the jam, I think. 

I decided I would have a go at some white chocolate and raspberry cookies. I don't have a regular cookies recipe that I thought would be robust enough for a large amount of filling, so I Googled and found this recipe, which I duly adapted to my needs.

100g butter
100g sugar
65g condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla
175g self-raising flour
White chocolate chunks - about 50g
Fresh raspberries - I used much less than a punnet

Cream the butter and sugar until pale, then beat in the milk and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Add the flour and work until you have a smooth dough. Take a small handful and flatten in your palm; place three-ish raspberries in the middle and then smoosh shut. You end up with something that looks a bit like this.


That's a greased baking sheet you're putting them on, in case you didn't realise. Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes until browned at the edges but still quite soft in the middle. Leave to cool for a while on the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

I added an extra touch to mine by drizzling with Lindt strawberry white chocolate which I came across in Sainsbury's. I think I can safely say that, while this worked, I really need more practice on the drizzling. I'd like to blame it on the texture of the chocolate but we both know I'd be fooling myself.


This made eight large cookies. They are very soft in the middle due to the raspberries. Still warm from the oven they are pretty crisp but then soften up after a few hours' exposure. They are also tooth-achingly sweet. I think, in future, I would not add the chocolate chunks to the mixture but instead stick with a drizzle at the end. I might reduce the amount of sugar, as well, to make up for the sweetened milk. It already has more sugar than I would normally put into, say, shortbread, which is plenty sweet.

It's a very good cookie recipe, though. There will definitely be a next time.

Friday 24 August 2012

Fave Friday

An ode to exercise, this week. I have been exercising hard this holiday. I had somehow managed to convince myself that I really could continue to eat with gay abandon as long as I did enough exercise, but this is sadly not true.

However, I have now grown to enjoy it. A lady at the gym said she was amazed at how different I looked (I really don't see it, but it is nice of her anyway) and when I said it had become a habit she agreed and said, "Yes, I find now that if I *don't* exercise for a few days I start to get stiff, like my body is protesting." And I think she may be right.

Thanks to regular spin classes I might be at my fittest ever. I went on a bike ride with a new friend last week; we peddled to Bath from Saltford and back, which is about 4 miles each way, and I was nervous I would be a wobbling, huffing, sweaty mess. However, this was not the case. In fact, Lizzy seemed more out of breath than me; she hasn't cycled for a long time. I was so inspired I took the bike I borrowed from a colleague ooohh, five years ago and never rode, down to the cycle shop for a service. But I think I am going to have to give up on the resolution of 50 spin classes in 2012, unfortunately, because I am currently only at 24 and while I could make the effort of doing two a week until Christmas I can't do that AND train for the Sodbury Slog.

Ah yes, running. I am still waiting to enjoy running again. I remember enjoying it back in 2006, when I trained for and completed the Great South Run. I know I enjoyed it because I am wistfully jealous when I see runners on the road. But it is hard to enjoy it when 10 minutes of a very slow jog is just about all you can manage without stopping for a rest.

I read Junebug's post on exercise this week, though, and she really inspired me. For the first time since 2006, I laced up my trainers and went for a run outside, instead of on the treadmill. It's a lot easier to run outside, because I can vary my pace. I ran about 1.2km (roughly...) in around 10 minutes (don't work it out, it's so slow I don't even know if it counts as running), had a little rest on a bench, and then ran back in about the same time. It's slow, but I am training for a slog; I figure if I can run three bursts of three miles without too much trouble, I'll be OK on the day.

When I got to the end of my runner, I did what trainer-Jenny suggested and tried to spring the last 100m, so by the time I got to the bench I was totally wiped out. Face streaming, huffing like a good'un, probably a very attractive shade of red. Then I noticed this graffiti...


Genius. I laughed all the way home.

This is my 500th post on my Blogger blog, by the way. Well done me! One day I might get round to counting all the posts from my pre-blogger blog. ETA - curiosity got the better of me and I just did this. A mere 256 from October 1999-end of 2006. But they were massively wordy, and with hardly any pictures. I have managed to forget how painful writing the HTML offline and uploading via WSFTP was.

Friday 10 August 2012

Fave Friday

I love these shoes.


These shoes are old. I bought them in 1997. I was working briefly at William Hill and I saw these shoes and was utterly smitten. I had to have them. They were in Faith, and I managed to scrape enough out of my pay packet to purchase them: and then promptly tore the fabric on the heel by sitting with my feet resting on a little table we had in our teeny studio flat at the time. I took them back but they had no others in my size so I think, in the end, they gave me some money back. Later, I also bought them in black.


Being the height of the Spice Girl era, these shoes weren't too unusual back then. I loved the colours and the fact they were so very comfortable, yet made me impossibly tall - well over 6 foot. When I started uni that September there was a girl there who was impossibly cool and had these shoes in a brown and tan colourway so I felt that I was also cool, even though I didn't wear mine to uni. If memory serves, I spent most of my uni life in DM Mary Janes or scruffy trainers. But the spice shoes came out for clubbing trips every now and then.

I hauled out these shoes this past weekend for a 60s themed hen do. They have not withstood the test of time. I used to think I could dye them to stop them looking so dirty but now the inner has started to separate from the sole and the strap on one is on its last legs. I think it is time to part with the spice shoes...I still have the black pair, after all. Very occasionally I wear them to work.