Crochet and Nodecopters

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Photo via lovedbylauren.com

I’ve been wanting to learn to crochet for a while, I had a go myself with a booklet but got a bit confused and just ended up with some knots that I didn’t know whether they were right or wrong. Therefore when my friend suggested that some of us have a get together and learn I thought this was a great idea. She had taught herself to make a granny square from this youtube video and she (and the video) then taught us.

It was a little confusing at first and I really couldn’t get the hang of the basic knots until i realised that with a twist of the wrist it becomes easier. This square is really easy to make once you get the hang of the clusters and the chains as you just repeat them round in a circle. When you complete a round you can either carry on or switch to a different colour. Here is my first attempt.

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Since last Saturday I have got a little obsessed and have been crocheting all the time (even on the bus). Ive started these black, red and pink squares which I plan to make bigger then join together to make a blanket.

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Meanwhile the gentlemen were running the Nodecopter event as part of the Bath Digital Festival

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Recently Reading: Nancy Mitford and the Apocalypse (but not together)

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Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford (1935) – Years ago I read The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate (her most famous novels) and decided to read more of her works. I made the mistake of not reading the novels in order and had to give up on Don’t Tell Alfred because I realised I hadn’t read The Blessing yet (currently on the go) and that some of the characters do cross over (in the novels concerning Fanny). Some of her works are stand alone and so any order is ok.

The Nancy Mitford website sumerises the plot very well: “Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest girls in England and an ardent supporter of Captain Jack and the Union Jackshirts; Noel and Jasper are both in search of an heiress (so much easier than trying to work for the money); Poppy and Marjorie are nursing lovelorn hearts; and the beautiful bourgeois Mrs Lace is on the prowl for someone to lighten the boredom of her life. They all congregate near Eugenia’s fabulous country home at Chalford, and much farce ensues.”

I discovered that Wigs on the Green has been out of print for over 75 years as it is a satire on British Fascism, Nancy Mitford declined to republish after the events of the second world war because she thought it would not be in good taste. What is useful to know is that in the 30’s two of the other Mitford sisters were devotees of Fascism and did not recieve the publishing of the novel well.

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford (1940) – I read this last year but forgot to write about it. Its quite a funny, not too complex story about wealthy Sophia Garfield who during the war works at a first aid post but dreams of being a glamourous female spy. Need I say more,larks and misunderstandings and much excitement ensues. Although I would not say this is one of the best of her novels it was thoroughly enjoyable light reading, and I do intend to read all her novels.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (1991) – I read this as a teenager, and having forgotten most of the details of the plot really enjoyed reading it again. The Antichrist has been born (although there may have been a bit of a mixup in the hospital due to a scatterbrain nun) and Armageddon is neigh (well in 11 years anyway). Aziraphael (angel) and Crowley (demon) however don’t really want the world to end as they rather like it. Newton Pulcifer has been enlisted into the Witch Finder Army and Anathema Device is trying to follow all the coming events prophesied by her ancestor in her book The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.  Also there’s a delivery man doing his rounds for four very special people.

All images from amazon.co.uk

Dreaming of Dolce and Gabbana bags

When I was poorly I spent a lot of time looking on the internet at handbags and shoes, the results of this can be seen on my Spring 2013 (which got a bit overrun) and Handsome Handbags pinterest boards. I unfortunately  fell in love with many a handbag which I cannot afford but looking at their beauty is at least enjoyable.

I fell in love with this, the Dolce and Gabbana Miss Sicily medium deerskin bag. It is classic, elegant and sophisticated (and I can quite imagine my granny with it which means it’s timeless)

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The Sicily Classic Tote is the larger style and equally as beautiful

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Due to the cost I was quite pleased to find out that it was not quite perfect for me as it doesn’t have an inside zip so at least this has quenched some of my longing. But oh I do want a bag like this, please somebody make one I can afford.

Welsh Cakes for St David’s Day

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This post was supposed to appear on 1st March but I had a headache (will this cold ever go away!) so I hope you will be lenient.

Celebrations and food have gone together throughout all of history, with certain recipes associating themselves with different calendar events. Think Christmas Cake, Cinder Toffee and Hot Cross Buns (or my Not Cross Buns I made last year). Although you can make recipes all year round there is something extra special about making something for a special occasion, even if its just celebrating seasonal food as I always make my rhubarb spice cake when the first rhubarb comes into season. I lived in Wales for a long time and I remember every March 1st the local newspaper would give out Welsh Cakes and Daffodils. Indeed the day before i went out and bought a Marie Curie daffodil pin badge to wear.

I have never made Welsh Cakes before and I thought that this year would be a good time to try. After some discussion with the Gentleman of the House it was decided that the most authentic recipe would be one which used lard and I selected this recipe from the BBC Good Food website. I’ve not baked with lard before and its quite strange thinking you can smell sausages when you are making cake.

  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter , cut into small pieces
  • 50g lard , cut into small pieces, plus extra for frying
  • 50g currants
  • egg , beaten
  • splash milk
  1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through.

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I used my magimix with the blade attachment to mix the first ingredients then switched to the plastic blade when adding the fruit so as not to mash it to a pulp. Adding the splash of milk meant that the mixture really came together and wasn’t crumbly. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter of the correct size but it turned out that the wine glasses were perfect (you just have to be very delicate)

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Although Welsh Cakes aren’t one of my favourites, they were very nice and others really enjoyed them too. I am glad this is a challenge which I tried and I was very pleased to find how easy they are to make.

I find food is a wonderful way to learn more about the world around us, and when it comes to festival food, I love to read about the history of why these recipes came to be made and loved. One of my recipe books; Warm Bread and Honey Cake, gives you so much history for a dish and has inspired me to explore other cultural traditions. I think the next cultural baking adventure appearing on the calendar will be the Yom Tov Tik Passover cake.

Happy Baking