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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Stir up Sunday (again)

It's That Time of Year Again

I can hardly believe where this year has gone.
I always remember my Nana telling me 
the years go by faster as you get older, 
and I never really understood 
what on earth she was talking about.

Sadly she is no longer around to tell me that any more,
but I now know exactly what she meant.

Time is so precious, 
and it's not until we have a bit of
life experience under our belts 
that we can truly appreciate
how taking the time to make 
special memories is so important.

I look at my two children and wonder what they think of some of the things I tell them?
Do they think I am a wise and knowledgeable parent?
Or someone who talks utter rubbish at times, 
but makes them laugh?

I hope it is the former, 
but suspect it is the latter.

Either way I love them, 
and hope in years to come they will look back 
at all the things we do at this time of year,
and remember fondly the laughter and fun
(and amazing smells) 
that fill our kitchen and house.

Christmas was never that special to me 
in my late teens and twenties.
It was a good excuse for a few days off work 
and to eat and drink far more 
than my poor tummy could cope with.
It is only now that I really enjoy it all
(and that includes the stress of having 
everything ready for one special day).

Today is fondly known as 
'Stir Up Sunday' 
in the baking world.

A day to bake, 
and make a serious attempt at 
the mountains of Christmas 
preparations that need to be done. 

I have already baked the 
Christmas cakes and they are maturing nicely,
with a regular 'feed' of brandy, 
before icing in a week or two.
There was just the Christmas pudding that I needed to get done today.

I have already written about the recipe I like to use here.
I have tweaked it a little over the years 
and I have replaced the
currants in the recipe for dates.

(Currants are one of my least favourite dried fruits. 
They look like dead flies 
and taste pretty much like them too.)

The dates give it a more rich and slightly toffee taste 
which all the family seem to enjoy.

I have found using my slow cooker 
to cook the pudding by far and away the easiest
and convenient way.

You pop it in there 
and basically that's it for about 8-10 hrs depending
on the size of the pudding you are cooking.
It's all nicely tucked up in some 
greaseproof paper and foil now 
until the big day.

Next on the agenda is my sweet mince prep 
but that will have to wait until next weekend now.

What are some of your Christmas traditions?
I would love to hear about them.

Until next time,
enjoy your Christmas preparations.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Sunburst Granny Square Blanket

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

I think we all dread the day our children leave home.

There is the attraction of having a spare room again,
and being able to see the bottom of  the laundry basket from time to time,
but with that comes the
empty nest syndrome that so many people have described to me over the years.

I have been with my 'work family' for so long,
their children have become integral parts of my life without realising it.
I have been privileged enough to watch them grow from
gorgeous little babies into amazing adults that we can all
feel incredibly proud of.

Therefore when my lovely friends daughter came to leave for university recently,
we all felt the stomach churning wrench of being left behind.

The though of our loved ones not waking up in their own bedrooms any more is never going to be an easy thing to accept, but I remember reading a quote many years ago that said -

If you love someone set them free
 If they come back they are yours.
If they don't, thy never were.

Tell that to their mothers as they weep inconsolably for weeks after they have gone.

Never the less, Abby left for Leeds and I really wanted to give her a gift to remember us all by,
 but also something she could keep as a memento of her first steps into adult life.

I knew immediately that a hand made blanket would be perfect and so I set about racing against time to make something really special for her.
As always the clock was against me and I didn't manage to finish her gift in time for her leaving but I sent it down to her a couple of weeks later.

I have been wanting to try out the sunburst square by Priscilla Hewitt for quite some time, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

I was really pleased with the end result and the colours seemed to come together so well.
More by luck than planning!

Miss Bee helped to choose the colours
during a recent trip the wool heaven also known as 
Black Sheep Wools.

My favourite colour is blue,
 so when we chose this delicious mix I couldn't wait to get started.

I calculated the size of  the blanket,
 and it worked out at 7 x 9 squares plus a decent size border.
I used parchment for the border which I felt was a nice change from the usual cream or white that people tend to go for.

I chose Stylecraft Special Double Knit in 

Storm Blue

and Stylecraft Life DK in 

Ice Blue

The border was simple but I think it looks effective.
I didn't want to detract from the detail of the pattern in the squares,
(and there were quite a few of them stacked up around the house).

I have used this on a couple of other blankets 
and it always looks good and is very simple to do.

There is a very good picture tutorial over on 
Cherry Heart

The final row of edging was taken from Attic 24's granny blanket edging.

As my confidence with my crochet skills grows,
so does  my bravery to mix things up a little with pattern and colour combinations.

I have so enjoyed creating this gift for Abby
and my only hope is that she enjoys it's lovely, snuggliness 
as much as I have,
and that she thinks of us all 'up north' when she uses it.

Until next time, enjoy your day.