Sunday, 30 August 2015

GBBO - Week 4

So last week was dessert week (which I always confuse with desert although one is much tastier than the other). And wasn't it dessert week last year that bin gate happened? I'm sure it was as it involved a baked alaska. This poor woman probably never hears the end of it. Not helped by bloggers like me.

Anyway, dessert week 2015 began with a dessert I hate. Creme brulee. It's wobbly custard. The only thing worse than runny custard is not so runny custard. The yummy looking sugary topping hides the betrayal of the disgusting goo beneath. My humble opinion of course. I seem to be alone in that one. I was intrigued by the flavours added by the bakers. I thought it came one way (as I have described). It would seem that it's actually common to have rhubarb beneath (as I think a few of them did). As much as I was intrigued it wasn't enough to entice me to bake one. If you are one of the majority though the Bake Off website has a recipe for one with a cappuccino flavour - waste of good coffee.

The technical challenge was a Spanish Windtorte. Sounds like something rude and not a name belonging to this beautiful creation. Look how pretty! And within that beautiful meringue is yet more meringue. I think Paul won this one (he of the lion bread and not the judge). Won it for taste and actually knowing what violets should look like. I would have lost on that one. Would love to try my own meringue though. Although I would just eat it all. As it is a technical challenge this recipe is also available for the bake along challenge. Good luck with that if you are joining in. I am mightily jealous.

 The show stopper was a three layer cheesecake. My dessert of choice. Any restaurant which does cheesecake badly is immediately lowered in my estimation. I am also proud to say that I have actually made a few cheesecakes in my time. I was impressed with Nadiya's cheesecake. That of the fizzy pop flavours. I was impressed by how she managed to instill the flavours. I have also never made one with a pastry base and I was impressed by that too. Now the trio inspired by chocolate bars would have went straight to the top of the list. I thought Mat was in danger until he made those. Poor Flora though, rookie error only coming up with one flavour.

It was Sandy I truly felt sorry for though. She had a bad week sadly which meant we said goodbye to her. I can understand why the judges sent her home. However, I thought she was hilarious. Brought a bit of life into the other contestants. Her humour even came through on An Extra Slice. Think the rest of the series might seem a little flat without her.

As always none of these images are mine but belong to the official Bake Off website. In other news I will get to watch this when it airs this week. Much excited by that. It's the little things in life.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Garden in August

 I am away for a few days on holiday but thought I would sneak in an extra post. I have actually been trying to have set days of posting (Tuesdays and Fridays) with an extra post now and then when I have something I need to highlight such as Sundays post congratulating a talented bunch of ladies. So leaving for a city break should be no excuse in getting a post out there. I thought what better (lazy) way of doing that than posting some images from the garden. After all it's been two whole weeks since the last one.

Actually, it's about time I posted the images I have collected over the last few weeks. The sun has popped out now and then. Long enough for me to take some photo's. Also, it's the end of the summer and I have started pruning already. The hanging baskets are empty once again and the wildflowers are gone. It won't be long for other flowers to join in.

Meanwhile a few have just begun to bloom such as the sunflowers. You can see above how tall they have become.

 These flowers were a favourite of my mum's. I'm not a huge fan and neither is my dad. I actually think the height of them makes them a little creepy. My mum had one growing write where these are growing a few years ago and she was so proud of it. These were planted in little pots just before she past away. Next year though I think I will try to get some roses to replace them.

These daisies have finally begun to bloom. I love a daisy but I was beginning to think that they would never come out to play.

The tomato plants have begun to flower too. I am sure my mum was getting tomatoes from her plants already by this point. I'm not confident that we will get them this year. At least I tried though.

Anyway, I have begun planning for next spring already. I have a variety of bulbs which I will begin planting as soon as I come back from my trip. In the meantime I hope you like the rest of the photo's.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Well Done Glasgow Fort Stitch 'N' Bitch!

A sneaky post to highlight the good work that this lovely lot have done. Doubly sneaky as I have pinched these photo's from their facebook page. These lovely ladies from the knitting group got together and raised money for the Beatson and took part in a 10k while they were there. They called themselves the Happy Hookers (the good kind). This they did in memory the memory of my mum and all the others that have been lost or fought this horrible disease. They managed to raise £1095 and have even been brought to the attention of the Beatson charity team. In fact I hear that this isn't even the final total.

To add to that talent they crocheted as they walked. They made granny square blankets in the charity colours. These blankets are now going to be raffled off by the Beatson at Christmas to help raise even more.

Each of the participants got a goody bag from the team organisers. It contained a poem, a crocheted hair clasp and a handmade crochet hook. I was lucky enough to get one of these goody bags even though I wasn't there. I will be next year though as I plan to join in. Yep, these ladies have started planning for next year already.

Once again well done ladies. You did my wee mum proud.

Friday, 21 August 2015

GBBO - Week 3

 Yep, it's Bake Off week 3 and not only that it's bread week. Although I have never made bread myself I always liked bread week. It's the filled breads I liked. Mainly because I liked to see the fillings the bakers come up with. Another reason is that I have yet to have the guts to bake bread never mind bake bread with lots of fillings.

They started off with soda bread this week. Now, I have heard that soda is one of the easiest breads to make. I remember working with a girl from Ireland who often made soda bread and said anyone could make it. However, to see this weeks Bake Off maybe this is not the case. Mind you this wasn't your basic soda bread. There were lots of different flavours there. My favourite being the ones with cheese. Love cheese.

The challenge this week was baguettes which have never been made before on Bake Off. I was a little disappointed when this was revealed. It just seems so boring. In this I was proved wrong yet again. It may not be the most exciting of breads to look at or eat. However, there is a little more to it when it comes to baking. It involves proving (which I love) and a french linen for a second proving. Who knew! As usual the challenge is part of the Bake along and you can find the recipe for it here.

The show stopper was as impressive as always. This year it involved bread sculptures using different types of bread. It also had to include a filled bread. I was pretty impress with most of them. I honestly don't know how people come up with these things and then put their plans into practise. This week was so impressive that it led to a Bake Off first. Paul got a special commendation for his bread Lion. I had my doubts that this would work but look how good this is. Apparently it tasted good too.

Ian was once again star baker. He won it for his flower pot bread sculpture. I personally was more impressed by the breadcycle by Tamal. How can you not be impress by the fact that he managed to construct a bike from different breads and it even stood up. It even had a loaf in it's basket.

Sadly we said goodby to Dorret. I think it was clear that she was going as she didn't have a very good week for any of her bakes. It was a shame though as she was probably the sweetest contestant. There still isn't the camaraderie from last year. Dorret was one of the warmest contestants and I think the group won't be the same without her. The lesson to be learned from this though is to always practise your show stopper.

As usual all the photo's are from the Bake Off website.

Before I go though I think I should mention one of the unsung heroes of Bake Off. We all know the people in front of the camera but what about the artist behind those magnificent illustrations? They belong to artist and illustrator Tom Hovey. He has his own website which you can find here as well as on my blogs list. He even sells his prints. I can see myself picking up one for my future kitchen. You can also find him on twitter. I had quite a geekout moment when I discovered that last year.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

WIP - August

It's about time that I shared the projects that I am working on just now (other than the blanket club of course). Unsurprisingly there is a theme in colour here. You might remember this shawl from months ago.  Well, I worked on it for a day or two and I loved it. Loved it so much I didn't track where I was. Of course when you take a break from something for as long as I did with this you are never going to remember where you are. So I picked it up again last week and started from the beginning. I love this pattern and I love how it's working out. I think soon I will be changing to circular needles. I hate using them but as this is only going to get bigger it needs to be done.

I am also working on these socks. I spotted them on pinterest months ago and I had to hunt it down on ravelry. Sadly it was part of a challenge and so wasn't available. Now that the challenge is completed the author put the pattern up for sale. It's called Far Into the Forest by Kirsten Hall. It's funny how this pattern was first used as it has certainly been a challenge to me. I've enjoyed it though.

I love the back too and I have now reached the heel. I've decided to put it on hold until I have some time off when I can truly concentrate on it. The heel is different from others I have done before so I need to take time with it.

I gave up on the mobius scarf because you couldn't see the pattern in the lace. So I started the Lucidity Shawl by Beata Jezek. I also found this on ravelry. I am loving how it is working out (spot the stitch marker by For the Love of Yarn). I have to be honest I haven't worked on this in a while either.

Maybe in September's update I will have an actual finish for you.

Friday, 14 August 2015

GBBO Week 2

 Week 2 of Bake Off and it was my favourite - biscuit week. Alas I missed it thanks to being on night shift. I caught up with it yesterday. My sister was over for film night and I took the opportunity to watch it with her.

There may have been a glass of prosecco in the offing as we watched. I may have missed tweeting as I watched but it was quite nice having my sister to chat to while we watched.

The evening started off with biscotti. If I am honest I don't get the biscotti thing. My sister was in agreement there. Why have a biscotti when you can have a decent biscuit or even a cake? The only thing biscotti is good for is breaking your teeth (in my humble opinion). The bakers flavours did sound good. But I won't be having a go at making my own.

The technical bake was the Arlette. Now these looked yum. I also like a recipe that involves laminating. Never done it myself but looks interesting.

 They are very similar to these which I think was the technical challenge either last year or the year before. 

The Arlette is part of the bake along and you can find the recipe here.

 I have to say I was well impressed with the show stopper this time. previous biscuit show stoppers have involved making some sort of themed structure (a dragon was my favourite from last year). This year it was a biscuit box containing biscuits. The box also made of biscuit. One of my favourite's was Flora's whose intricate decorating really set it off. I also quite liked Nadiya's. It didn't quite turn out as she had hoped but the fortune cookies inside looked amazing and the box itself still looked good.

My sister though, went on a rant about poor Dorrit. Dorrit made a box of frogs (which appealed to me). She used a cookie cutter for the frogs and for this she was heavily criticised. My sister came to her defence by pointing out that several others were using cookie cutters to ensure conformity.


My ultimate favourite though was the fire engine made from ginger bread. I loved this and all the work that went into it. I felt a little sorry that Mat didn't win star baker. Instead Ian won that one.

Alas, poor Marie was the second to go. She really didn't have a good week despite winning last week. She was accused of being to safe by going with the classics (one of the reasons she won star baker last week). She reminded me a little of last years Norman and I had hoped that she would last a little longer.

So last week I shared our Bakers twitter accounts. I'm really not a stalker, honest. This week I have some of their blogs to share with you. You can also find them in my craft blogs page. Before I go I should again point out that all of these photo's came from the GBBO barring one.

Flora Sheddon -
Ugne Bakes -  
 The Alternative Kitchen - 

Monday, 10 August 2015

New York! New York!

Starting off with an image that shows a very blank piece of aida isn't the best way to gain attention for a post. There is a reason for it though, I promise. A few years ago I posted this photo on instagram. I was on a break from my blog so it wasn't posted here. The point was that I was starting a new project and this would be the first and last progress photo for fear that a very good friend of mine would see it (as a fellow instagramer she would have and would have known instantly it was for her).


That blank aida became this New York scene (a kit from DMC). As soon as I saw this I knew that I had to make it for my friend who is New York obsessed. My one visit to this city was with her and she herself has been many many times.  Well, I started this in 2013. Finished it late in 2014. My poor friend finally received it last week. Thankfully she was unaware that she was waiting on it.

I loved stitching this project. Despite all the many shades of grey (possibly 50). I deliberately left all the colour until the end. I thought it would give me something to look forward to. Maybe if I hadn't taken such huge breaks between it would have been a problem. As it is I actually enjoyed watching this New York scene reveal itself. More importantly my friend seemed to like it.

Friday, 7 August 2015

GBBO Week 1.

 Unless you're a hermit or possibly not living in the UK you may have heard that Bake Off is back. I have been counting down since last week. I think I am slightly more excited about it this year as I am having baking withdrawal. All of my poor baking equipment is being held hostage by a broken cupboard. That's probably not entirely true. I would have been just as excited even if I wasn't having withdrawal.

Wednesday saw me with my favourite tea (twinings mint humbug). The laptop out and the ipad because I have to be on twitter, instagram and facebook all at the same time. It's at times like this I love social media. There was also some cake which my dad kindly picked up.

This week we had Madeira cake, walnut cake and black forest gateau. In other words it was cake week and I happen to love all three. I have never made them though. I fancy having a go at Madeira. This actually led to the first innuendo within seconds of the show. I'm proud to admit that I had it up there on twitter before the GBBO account. There were some interesting flavours but my personal favourite is your traditional Madeira. We always have one at New Year. The recipe for the yummy looking Madeira can be found here.

It's hard to have an opinion on the contestants so far. You can meet them all here. There doesn't seem to be the camaraderie that there was last year. Or is it too early for that? There are two Scots though and I feel I should support them. Oh, and there is a nurse too.

The walnut cake came second. It looked pretty yum to be honest. I had to laugh at Mary's words of wisdom. I fail at this every time. Mainly though I loved the Black Forest Gateau. I NEED to try this myself.

Oh, and one of the Scots was our star baker. I think she is going to be like last years Nancy. An experienced baker who doesn't seem to get flustered. Time will tell though.

With the return of Bake Off we of course have Extra Slice with Jo Brand. Looking forward to that but will have to wait until catch up. I'm also working the next two Wednesdays so no twitter and Bake off for me. I will try to post my thoughts though.

I am sad to learn that once again there is a bake along. I had hoped to join in this year but maybe next year. Anyone else joining in? This week it's the walnut cake which does look delicious.

Only one of these images are mine. The rest came from GBBO website.

Oh and if you are as socially media obsessed as I am at these things you can find most if the bakers on twitter;

Stu Henshall
Sandy Docherty
Ian Cumming
Alvin Magallanes
Ugne Bubnaityte
Flora Shedden
Dorret Conway
Nadiya Hussain
Tamal Ray
Mat Riley

You can also find me there under Karen Crafts but I won't be taking to twitter on the next few episodes due to work. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Blanket Club Month 7.

The plan is to try and give an update about the blanket club each month. I had planned to do that from day one but never managed it. Better late than never as they say. This months box came last week. Sadly my camera isn't doing it justice. It's a light teal which just happens to be one of my favourite colours. Each month Lisa also sends us a wee gift. I should really do a post just on these little gifts as a lot of thought goes into them. This months gift is a measuring tape in the form of a snail. I actually almost bought myself this very same tape a few months back. Glad I didn't now (although elves seem to steal and hoard all my tapes).

As I said, my camera isn't really doing the colour justice. The shade is really somewhere in between the two photographs. This months square is a traditional granny. Love a traditional granny. It always feels like coming home. You can never go wrong with it. Although, I do have to forcibly stop myself from continuing after the three rounds are done. Force of habit. I am the queen of the large granny. I have just been in the mood the last week or so to do these small projects and as a result I have almost finished my mum's squares for this month. No need to feel sad for me as I will have my own to do next. You can feel sorry for me when they are done.

I also caught up with my own squares. I had two months to go when I received the teal. I was tempted to just make a start on those but my will power held out. Two days of solid crochet and this is the end result. I am in love with those colours.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Water Logged!

Us Scots are known for complaining about the weather. Let's face it we are never happy if it's too hot or too cold. Although generally speaking we only complain about the sun if we have to work in it. Well this year has seen one of the worst summers in a long time. We had two weeks of beautiful sunshine in Easter. I even managed to post a little about it as my mum and I got out into the garden.  Since then we have had days here and there. The rest of the time it's been raining and I've even had the heating on a few times.

It hasn't helped our poor garden. The grass is badly needing cut but the ground is too wet. Many plants haven't survived and many more have been late to bloom. Having said all that the garden is looking colourful at long last. So here are a few updates on some of the plants I have been looking after.

 First of all these tomato plants are no longer little. I planted them into the garden back in May.

They are enormous and the one on the far right was the little runt that I had been told to discard. There are even some flowers there and we may have tomato's soon. I'm not completely hopeful of that. I think I read somewhere that you are supposed to cut some of the fronds back as it can inhibit the flowers that lead to tomato's. Plus it's getting on in the year and I am sure my mum was already getting ripe tomato's from them by now.

The sunflowers are also standing tall. They survived being blown over and the trellis snapping in the high winds a few weeks ago. They have also survived something eating the leaves. They won't grow much taller than this as the flowers are popping up now.

These are actually almost gone now. They are wildflowers and are supposed to attract butterflies. I have actually seen a few around the garden although not near these plants. They look pretty though.

The cosmos have only just started to flower. They are a lot taller than I thought they would be and look a little silly in the wheelbarrow. However, they are thriving so I'm not going to complain too loudly.

The hanging baskets have also bloomed. However, they haven't been as healthy or as pretty as my mum had them over the years. I don't think that's entirely down to the weather. My mum had said not to put all the seeds into one basket and I did. Lesson learned!

The plant that my mum got from her work is also flowering again. I felt sure that it would because of how healthy the leaves looked. I thought I would have to wait until next year though. It makes for a nice surprise. My mum would have liked these little flowers.

These lilies have not fared as well as previous years. They aren't as healthy looking and not as orange. Some of the neighbours have these and they look the same. So I don't think this was me.

More and more flowers are coming out and there are still plenty of bees about the garden too. Although we can't really sit out and enjoy it, we can still see it from the window. I'm sure I will have more photo's for you as our so called summer winds down.