::Cosy, calm Christmas::

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Oh wow it’s been a while. What better time of year to catch up with old and new friends than Christmas. So here I am. All ready to roll through my Christmas so far and the cosy, calmness of it all. Lovely.

wreathMy Christmas celebrations started with my Stitching group meeting once the children had broken up from school. It is always a rush around to get to this meeting, but so worth it once there: the friendly and warm chatter of familiar faces, calming cosiness of the log fire and the scent of the newly gathered foliage, the mulled wine, homemade mince pies, and then the creativity and delightfulness of wreath making.

I started from scratch this year with lots of fresh bouncy Ivy to make my ring then embellished on top, with orange slices, pine cones, holly and berries. I finished it off with a tartan ribbon. Well it just looked right. I wish you could smell the scent of the pine and orange. Oh wow! I’m pretty pleased with the results.

cakeThen there was the cake decoration. I lovingly made the cake back in the October half term with my good old Mary Berry Aga christmas cake recipe, see last years and it has been hibernating, developing and maturing ever since. Until the time came for it to have it’s glorious Ta-dah moment! This season’s trend for silver and white was my theme and it was a very simple, but effective and delicious affair. Particularly the edible silver glitter with it’s shimmer and shine. Oh and a good lump of Yorkshire Wensleydale!

CAM00133Walking and getting out and about is an essential part of our Christmas especially after eating so well and so much on  Christmas day. Even as big kids, they enjoyed the traditional opening of presents in our dressing gowns, with croissants and jam for breakfast. The excitement of surprises never seems to leave at any age. I roast a turkey at christmas, we have always enjoyed the aroma that fills the house, including all of the trimmings and relish the thought of all of the left overs including turkey soup. Following our meal, we headed out for a local walk, just a mile up the road and back.

family walk xmas dayYes, here we all are, doing the selfie thing. It’s a great picture of us all at a time when my youngest will be turning 16 years old in the very New Year! OMG (oh my gosh)! 16 seems so very different. My eldest will be 20 years old at Easter – oh wow!

On Boxing Day as last year we go for a walk, generally we pack a Christmassy picnic, a big flask of coffee and one of hot chocolate for the teenagers, turkey and cranberry sandwiches, christmas cake, stollen, sausage rolls and some yummy crisps and off we go! This time we went to Buttermere – only 35 minutes away so perfect for feeling like you’re on a day out, but not too far either!

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Following all of the torrential rain we’ve had recently, the waterfalls were bursting and really gusty.
It rained, that spitty kind of rain, then it got a bit stronger and splashy. We knew we weren’t going to make it around the lake. The frost, and a sprinkling of snow on the tops of the fells made the whole area look stunning, even in the drizzle. The water was so clear.

You may remember in October we had a very special birthday in our household – yes my lovely husband J was the big 5 0. He had no idea what he wanted for his birthday and so I went ahead with a rather big present- but it combined with his Christmas and when I announced it at his surprise birthday in October he was over the moon! So, over the festive days that followed Christmas, I booked our trip to Iceland! Woohoo! So exciting.

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Iceland looks so beautiful and I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities to explore the stunning scenery and the wonderful knitwear and wools in the town. When we’re not Viking horse riding, enjoying the Blue Lagoon or glacier walking!.

Christmas Sunday and yet another walk. It was a beautiful day for a walk around the block, I’m so lucky to live in a beautiful place with rolling fells, the Solway and Dumfriesshire over on the horizon in the not too far away middle ground.

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It was an invigorating walk. The crunchy ice puddles, sugar coated frosty ferns, a jet stream screeching through the sky, raw fleece caught on the barbed wire frosted and crisp, and the long shadows of the low sun. The light was wonderful and such a welcome change from the last few dark, wet days.

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autumn rippleFinally I’ve enjoyed cosying up under my latest wip, my Autumn cosy ripple blanket crocheted in Stylcraft special DK. Inspired by both Lucy attic24 and Heather @Patchwork Heart, I chose my colours carefully to reflect my autumnal mood. But more of that later. Many evenings leading up to Christmas under this growing and deeply satisfying blanket with it’s soothing rhythm. So I’ll say bye for now peeps, I’m going to make that Turkey soup now and continue my cosy, calm Christmas. xx

::Returning::

Oh my it has taken a while to get around to this post. Returning from holiday, returning to school, returning back to the rhythm of life after a stupidly hectic Autumn term.

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Paris and France seem like an incredibly long time ago; wandering in the steaming streets following the summer downpours, a visit to L’Oisive The (even though it was closed for the french national holiday fortnight), balconies and beautiful architecture at every turn, great coffee, the views from the Eiffel Tower, the smell of freshly baked pattisserie, fields full of maize, sunflowers and grapes, returning to the farmhouse for simple freshly cooked dinners.

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It was a swift return straight into school with a bump, returning home on Friday and back to school Monday, having washed, cleaned, filled up cupboards of food, planned lessons and whooooosh, there I was back in class with a lovely bunch of new Year 6 children. We are studying The Victorians so the class is themed around Sherlock Holmes, at the moment.

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The following weekend it was the returning of my eldest E to Leeds for year two of Music production and composition. Moving him into his new flat, with flatmates and a new location for him to investigate, new relationships for him to forge and a new set of challenges for him has taken it’s toll on him and consequently me too. I miss him._DSC0098

A twenty second wedding anniversary meal followed the next weekend; returning to the two of us in the next few years is something we have begun to talk about. When both of our boys are at university, exploring their path through the world and it is just the two of us at home isn’t, in reality, too far away. I have mixed emotions about it. Having a house full of laughter, little feet, daily, hourly, investigations and wonder with small children will be replaced by time spent together again, returning to the two of us of twenty or so years before. I relish the thought of coming and going as we please. I look forwards to seeing our boys, now almost men, make their way and supporting, enjoying, and feeling so incredibly proud of their skills, personalities and choices.

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Returning to Yarndale the next weekend was amazing; taking my Mum as a birthday treat, catching up with Lucy from Attic24 and Amanda from The natural Dye Studio. Showing off my Poncho and my kaleidoscope blanket to them filled me with joy. So much in common, so many shared pleasures and time to indulge and share. Lovely. Treating my lovely Mum to the Yarndale trip filled me with such pleasure, the kind of pleasure you get from being generous and unselfish with your time for the delight of others. Spending time with my one year old nephew and my ‘baby’ brother in nearby Harrogate over the weekend and his “How long does it take to look at wool?” comments made me smile.yarndale 14 2yardale 2014Then there was the many happy returns of J’s fiftieth birthday weekend last week. Yes my husband is a whole big fifty! Where did the time go? He had no idea of the surprise birthday party, returning to my brother’s house to host it. We enjoyed a love filled, family filled day of reminiscence, memories and laughter and a wonderful hillwalking cake made by my lovely mum. Then I was forty five the following day. Hmmmmm…..

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So here I am with a half term of …. no plans. Wow. I have some catching up to do, the house needs some love, tidying, and sorting. I am full of cold, I have shared my germs unfortunately as I have shared my past four weekends. I am in need of some crochet therapy and intend to do just that. Recharge my batteries, drool over my Yarndale purchases, reflect on my last few weeks and return myself to full health before round two and the run down to Chrsitmas. Oh boy, it looks like it will be some ride! :O)xx

::Easter Simnel Muffins::

ImageHappy Easter everyone!!

Here is a little treat post, won’t be a long one I promise, for those of you who enjoy a Simnel cake but find the cooking of it takes an age! These Simnel Muffins are amazing and are from the BBC Good Food cookery Book. I discovered them through a Facebook friend, who posted a picture of her muffins fresh from the oven. Ooooooh I wish I was able to smell them as they promised to be AmAzInG!!I have included any dairy or gluten free adaptations.  Anyway here are the recipe and the pictures.

They really are easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!!!!!Image

Soak 9oz Mixed fruit for an hour with the juice & rind of an orange, (keep back 2tbsp juice for the icing) – or microwave for 2min if you forget!

Beat together:
6oz butter (or free from margarine)
6oz golden caster
3 eggs
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
10oz self raising flour (I use gluten free)
5tbsp milk ( I use rice milk)

Add in fruit.

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Half fill muffin cases then put in a flattened ball of marzipan ( I put in small chopped chunks). 6oz will do all 12 muffins
Top with remaining mixture.

25 – 30 min 160-180C

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Make a thick ish icing with 8oz icing sugar & the orange juice then top with Mini Eggs

Then you can have your very own TA-DAH!!! moment and once the icing has stuck a little bit, enjoy them. They are really delicious!Image

Well I did it!!

Hi there to any new peeps over from my old blog site and a BIG grand HELLOOOO to any new peeps checking out my new and improved blog!! Great to have you here! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!! Karen xx

:: Year End Review: 2013: Part Two::

So here it is… part two. In some words (but mainly pictures). It took me so very long to get the pictures sorted I have resolved to organise my photo library for the new year!! A New Years resolution I hope to keep! Enjoy :o)xx

•∆• July

July 2013

Camping at the Cambridge Folk festival, finishing my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket, Ta-Dah post here, and new yarn arrives for Festival granny stripe blanket!

•∆• August

August 2013

Rome and Pompeii was AmAzInG!!! Amazing weather, amazing sights and history and amazing company. Our first family holiday without E was a bit emotional but we moved on and we're ok! Plodding on with new projects.

•∆• September

September 2013

E went on his way to Leeds College of Music and so so so proud we are, you can read all about it in my post here! My studio in the HayLoft was finished. School started back and the old routine of life springs back quickly. Weekends are taken up with visits to Leeds while E settles in. We all miss him. :o( However a super special trip to Yarndale cheers me up no end with my friend Fi!

•∆• October

October 2013

Tutti-fruity lampshade is finished see the Ta-Dah post here. J and I have our birthday, and we splash out on a night at the malmaison in Leeds and visit E at the same time. Half term visit to Saltaire was wonderfully relaxing and a bonus visit to E too! :o)

•∆• November

November 2013

Cold, cold, cold… wet and windy too. But beautifully Autumnal, see here for an autumn walk. Bonfire night, busy with my Autumn Wreath and the little details for that. So happy with it's completion- a new challenge having never made one before.

•∆• December

December 2013

With a deeply satisfying sigh we reach the end of the year. E home from College, end of a challenging school term and a joyous time making and creating presents for friends and family. Chilly hands dug down deep in pockets for a head clearing Boxing day walk.

It is so lovely, happy and satisying to look back over my year – finding crochet again around late spring and beginning my blog and Facebook page. It felt strange 'talking' and sharing my life with the great wide world, but that has now become such a blessing when I look back over my year in print and photos.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, with comments, likes, and shares- they mean a lot!

I look forwards to finding new 'friends' and learning more, trying more and challenging myself to even greater heights!

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favourite MixTures from the year 

::2013: Year end review: part one::
::Transition::
-Lovely – Sunny Festival Granny stripe blanket!-
- Whilst the weather…-
::It's great to have a catch up…::

::2013: Year end review: part one::

So here it is… my year end review part one and what a rollercoaster of a year it was too, both personally and professionally. It is always sentimental and lovely to look back over the year – normally looking back is a tricky place to go, as inevitably there may be regrets and wonderings about the path that was not taken.

However I can honestly say I haven't anything to regret, only lovely, happy family memories and times spent with my lovely bunch o 'boys' before our family entered a new chapter. With E leaving home for University and Little J beginning his GCSE's in September, and my work place changes, we have weathered the changes remarkably well and are very much intact. 

Here it is in pictures; some happy reminders of times spent with family and some of blossoming projects, blossoming confidence and blossoming gardens! Enjoy :O)

•∆• January •∆•

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•∆• February •∆•

February 2013

Very wet, lots of snow and then the glorious fire of the garden in full flame!

•∆• March •∆•

March 2013

Mother's day, family walks, snow and then the gloriousness of beautiful daffodils!

•∆• April •∆•

April 2013

E's 18th Birthday, walks at Glaramara and Loweswater, picnic's in the car, music exams and the beautiful practising that went with it, and the ever so sleepy awakening garden.

•∆• May

May 2013

The beginnings of a Summer Sunshine granny square Blanket and the tiny idea for a personal blog, explorations, cake and new kittens arrived in the middle of the night, behind the bath of all places!! Oh so cute.

•∆• June

June 2013

Tickets for The Cambridge Folk Festival arrive, more cake (another family birthday) crocheting projects and growing mischievious kittens.

From Little J's birthday at the start of the year (2nd of January!!) all the way to Christmas and family times together, it has been an amazing year full of delights, trials and tribulations.

So far so good… more tomorrow.

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More mix-tures!

-Garden developments, sunshine blanket and rainbow colours-
- Whilst the weather…-
Tickets for 50th Cambridge Folk Festival go on sale

:: All is calm… All is bright::

Merry Christmas everyone… as the good song says!

It's been a little busy leading up to the Christmas break, and now Christmas day is over, I'll be having a well deserved and longed for rest. Christmas cake turned out well – I use Mary Berry's Aga recipe and it always works wonderfully well.

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Busy making and crocheting Christmas decorations, presents and organising all of the food, housey things and family timetables(after a very intense end of term at school) almost drove me over the edge of tiredness into can't be bothered ville! However, family, sleep, food, sleep and family all rallied around to make christmas special, warm, cosy, and filled me up with good old fashioned family love and warmth. Aaaaaahhhhhhh…. (sigh of contentment.)

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(Got to love my youngest son's sense of humour – handmade cards!!)

Enjoy your Christmas and New Year, and I hope that the coming new season brings everything you need for a happy, healthy and homely life.

 

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A selection of other Mixtures!!

::Autumn wreath – Ta-Dah!!!::
::Ta-Dah!! Meet little Owl::