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..... We make
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..... We nuture

Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Craft Projects

Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

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Life

Love reading your comments

  • Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) I'm with you too on looking forward to the end of term and not having to keep looking at the clock in the morning and... 9 Dec
  • Kim Carberry Ahh! I am looking forward to the end of term too.... It's been so dark on a morning, it makes it so hard to get... 9 Dec
  • Fiona Cambouropoulos Oh those annoying answering machines! Nothing worse than those queues, now I know what to do while I wait! I have plenty of Jacobs fleece... 9 Dec
  • Fiona Cambouropoulos Oh you are clever! I could never manage a whole garment in knitting these days but I'd have fun making these and they look brilliant... 9 Dec
  • Phoebe Hi Cheryl, Thank you for sharing your ways on how to learn multiplication with your kids. My son is in grade 2 and their lesson... 9 Dec
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Dreaming

Can I just say how much I am looking forward to the end of term? We’ve hit that ready-to-stop state.  I’m yearning  to dance to the beat of my own drum.

I want to come down in the morning in pyjamas and stoke the fire. Turn on the Christmas lights. Drink my morning coffee in one uninterrupted sitting. Slowly. Throw a coat over my pjs, pull on wellies and head outside to let the hens out, then scurry back for a bowl of porridge with the rest of the family. Drawing intricate patterns on the top of it with golden syrup. All this, without looking at a clock once. Not once.

It would be bliss. It will be bliss. Just one more week to go.

This week has been undeniably busy. Packing it all in, so that everything will be in place to relax.

I started the week by finally running my first maths tutoring session. It went well. We went to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” at the cinema, as a family. We put up Christmas decorations. I ticked off a few gifts that I needed to order. I nudged ahead with my work, so I can take more time off when the children break up from school next week.There were after school events to tick off. Strangely none of them festive related.

We’ve played Christmas music to the point where I think we might need to expand our collection.

I baked festive treats, that disappeared too quickly.

In between the usual picking up, dropping off, organizing and working, I have been making, which of course I cannot show yet. Instead I did finish my snow hare, which is now sitting in among our snow scene.  (Note to self: Need to finish off snow scene)

Sigh.

So, yes as I try to cram everything I can in to this coming week, I am dreaming too. Of a more relaxed time ahead, where clocks do not tick quite so loudly.

The Reading Residence

A thrifty gift

Each year we exchange gifts with neighbours and friends. Mostly homemade goodies like festive cookies and sweets. Last year chocolate cherry mice were popular. The children love joining in. Especially between school breaking up and the big day. We have so much fun deciding what to make…..and sampling them,  of course.

As the tradition has grown, so have my endeavours to package our gifts up in a fun and eco friendly way. Usually its the bag we send them over in, or reusing the Christmas tin our friends sent over the year before. Some go backwards and forwards each year. We have great neighbours.

This year, we will probably include chocolate chip and clementine shortbread because it is amazingly good. (Recipe below.) I’ll probably drizzle icing and gold stars, but they need a good container too. I’ve been saving up black treacle and golden syrup containers. To give them a festive twist, I knitted up candy cane inspired wraps.

The beauty of these simple knitted covers is that they could be slipped off and used as mug warmers. I’m sure they could be used for a whole number of things. Most likely we will see them again, as they cheer up another package. Next year.

As I was knitting the first one, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Grinch. A Christmas favourite.

Can I admit, I didn’t like the book at first? Not one bit. Maybe it was the greeness of the Grinch from the movies or the way poor Max had to pull the sleigh or the general meaness until the end (hope I didn’t spoil it).

Re-reading it with my children, it has grown on me over the years. With each reading, I like it a little bit more. I whole heartedly love the message it gives. We don’t need all the Christmas trimmings to enjoy this time of year. It is a chance to strengthen our community and friendships.

“Maybe Christmas, ” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas….perhaps…. means a little bit more!”

Now I’m not going to argue with that one.

Would you like the shortbread recipe? It is easy, peasy. Almost lemon squeezy, except it involves clementines not lemons.

Ingredients

175g (6oz) butter (cut into small cubes and  at room temperature)
175g (6oz) plain flour
85g (3oz) semolina (uncooked)
85g (3oz) caster sugar
2 clementines (grated peel only)
100g (4oz) or more chocolate chips

Method

1.    Put everything, except the chocolate chips, in the food mixer and use the dough hook to mix togther. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour by hand in a bowl and then mix everything in to the mixture.

2.   Mix in chocolate chips into mixture

3.   Grease a 30cm x 22cm (12″ x 9″) tray.

4.   Spread the mixture evenly into the greased tray and press it firmly.

5.   Prick it with a fork, but I prefer to use the fork to make lines all over the flattened mixture.

6.   In a 2-oven Aga, slide tray onto the bottom runner, with the cold sheet on second runner at the top for 10-15 minutes. Turning half way through.

For other ovens, recipes seem to suggest 190 ºc/375 ºf/Gas 5 for 15 – 20 mins, but I’ve not tested it. Shortbread should be pale golden brown when they are ready.

7.   Once baked, cut into desired shapes and sizes, and lift out of the tray individually onto a wire rack to cool.

I love adding semolina to shortbread. It gives a crunch without needing to add demerara sugar. These ones are sweet enough as they include chocolate chip, so cutting down on more sugar is a plus. When buying the semolina, make sure you buy the uncooked dry type, used to make semolina pudding from scratch. Not the tinned, ready-to-eat semolina. Not a crunch provider.

Needless to say, my first two batches disappeared before I had time to package them. It was a job to have enough to photograph with the recycled gift container. I went out for an hour, and they were all gone except a few when I made it home. I had to use a photo from my Instagram feed to include here.

Anyway, I hope the neighbours will like them. The clementines add a fabulous seasonal touch to the shortbread. The containers are ready. A salvaged bow from last year, is fixed on top. Now I just need to make another batch.

Knitting notes

dk wool left over yarn from previous projects
4mm needles

For a Lyle’s Black Treacle 454g tin, cast on 48 stitches using the thumb method, or loosely. Stocking stitch 4 rows of red, then 4 rows of white and so on, until you reach the height of the tin. Cast off.

Sew up the sides and slip onto tin.

For a Lyle’s Golden Syrup 907g tin, cast on 72 stitches and follow the black treacle tin instructions.

Trash 2 Treasure

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.