:: Getting out::

It’s been a strange two weeks: being ill, recuperating, readjusting and letting my body heal has been a difficult process. Being stuck in the house, too cold to go out side for my fragile lungs and airways, not having the energy to put on my boots, round after round of Doctor’s and Asthma Clinic visits, has now passed. So with oxygen and energy levels up and  feeling remarkably light this morning, I decided I was getting out. I went for a walk in the village.

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I put on my super snug Merrell boots, I love them so much, and my Toft Alpaca knitted hat (bought the kit at Yarndale), took my inhaler, wrapped myself up and there was no stopping me!

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It is such a dark, grey and damp kind of day here in The Lake District. Not the beautiful, snappy, crackly frosty days we’ve had of late. But it felt so good to have the fresh air in my lungs and to feel the cool air on my face.20150212_112119

I loved seeing the colours and textures of the hedgerows and the vibrant lichens and moss that are everywhere at the moment.

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The clouds looked ominous, but I trundled on, past the cow sheds, the new house being built (wow that has really come on!) and through the farm yard up the hill.20150212_111457

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I loved getting out- it started my creative mind working again, thinking of colour combinations, patterns and shapes.

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It reminded me of what I have missed- February! Cold, dark, grey, damp February. Or most of it.

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So backhome for a treat, coffee and homemade Coffee, Banana and Cardamon cake. I made this cake the other day – I was a bit naughty because I tore the page out of a Country Living Magazine at the Doctor’s surgery whilst waiting for one of my many appointments. It looked and sounded so delicious and with my tired and jaded appetite I thought it would be a great pick-me-up. I was soooo right! I’ve written it up for you here.

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So now feeling triumphant and refreshed (and a teensy bit shattered- well a lot actually) it is time to have a rest. I’m loving  the start of my Simply Crochet Simone Francis Poncho from issue 25. You can get the pattern here if you don’t have the magazine and I got my Drops Nepal yarn from Wool Warehouse. They are absolutely brilliant at getting your yarn to you super duper quick! So I’m off to have another round or two before lunch. Oh it was good getting out, I’ll be off for another walk tomorrow I think. :O)xxxxx

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::Coffee, Banana and Cardamon cake – Country Living Magazine::

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I was recently at the Doctor’s and being a bit naughty, I tore this recipe out of the magazine.

20150212_124854It was a Country Living magazine from April 2014, and the cake looked and sounded so good I thought I’d give it a Gluten-free and Dairy-free try!

Here is the recipe that I made.

225g raisins

150ml Hot strong coffee

2 tablespoons of French Brandy (I use Sainsbury’s value and it’s fine)

110g sunflower dairy-free margarine (I use Pure)

140g Dark brown Muscavado Sugar

1 teaspoon of crushed cardamon seeds (about 15 pods)

2 medium eggs

2 ripe bananas (180g peeled weight)

225g Self raising Gluten -free flour (I use Dove’s farm)

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing

275g icing sugar

2 teaspoons strong coffee diluted in hot water

I soaked the raisins in the brandy and hot coffee for  about 4 hours. Mix the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, slowly add the eggs (beaten) and spoonfuls of flour until well mixed.Add cardamon seeds then bananas. Add bicarbonate of soda then the raisins and their liquid. I used a 23cm square tin, like a tray bake tin, and lined it with baking parchment.

20150210_162615Pop all of the batter into the tin, it was quite loose but spread well. I baked it in the top oven (roasting) of my Aga, about 180c/200c. It only took about 35 minutes and I checked it after 25 minutes and gave it  a half turn to even up the colouring. I skewered the centre and when it was a lovely golden colour and the skewer came out clean I put it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Then for the icing. I mixed the coffee granules with some hot water, not much just enough to mix the icing sugar into a thick but moveable paste.

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I cut the cake into  16 squares about 2 inches square.

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It’s absolutely delicious with a lovely cup of proper coffee (as my mum would say!) A great pick-me-up and so very moist. A real treat. :O)xxxxxx

::Food fest at our house::

I love summer food. A food fest. Salad, coleslaw, especially red cabbage coleslaw, and lots and lots of lovely juicy fruit salads. Then there are the savoury salads, oh my! Avocado, walnut and peach – yum yum. Feeling inspired to try a new salad courtesy of my blogland friend Loopy, I decided to team it with some homemade pizzas too. Here is the post that set me off on this food fest at our house extravaganza.

20140805_185434Look I made it- however I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used toasted walnut pieces instead and I used cider vinegar (not as sweet or sugary). It was yummy. Hmmm… but what to have with it? A good fest needs to have … more food!  So I started some gluten free bread in the bread maker – I know cheating but I was busy packing for my holiday and writing this post!

I used 450g of gluten free bread flour,  270ml of warm water, pinch of salt, 1 yeast sachet, 1 teaspoon of sugar, knob of butter and that was it.

If not using a bread maker then mix and combine, and once mixed put in a warm bowl and cover with cling film for about 1 1/2 hours. then knead it until soft and forgiving. I used it to make two bases by rolling it out. I covered two large baking trays and then left them for about 15 mins whilst I did the rest.

20140805_184047I fried off some red onion and some portobello mushrooms which were not going to last a three week holiday, no they weren’t. Added garlic to some chopped tomatoes and whizzed them up to make a tomato sauce for the base.

20140805_184100This one had the tomato base, the onion and mushroom mixture, olives, and some ricotta cheese blobs. I added the rest of the grated cheddar towards the end.20140805_191900Then I made one for the boys with plain pepperoni, ham and cheddar- they don’t do olives and ricotta!20140805_190335

It was all so very delicious and food fest like. So a blogland friends post about her well-being and recipes turned into a food fest at our house! Oh how lovely it all was, and there is even a bit left over for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm… what to have then- I’ll be checking with Loopy to see if she has anymore ideas!

 

::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

:: First Quarter ::

It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I was putting together my end of year review photos, of colourful makes, practical projects and little bits of my creative life. Here I am with the First Quarter of the year flashing by in images!! What a treat it is again, even though it wasn’t that long ago, to refresh, recap and revisit these happy snaps.

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What an amazingly colourful and creative first quarter it has been; there have been trials and tribulations, illness, difficult weather and changes to our working lives. But as a family, and with the support of good friends and trusted colleagues, we have weathered it all and are happy, safe and positive about what the next quarter will bring.

Many new projects on their way, new yarn purchased and also my kaleidoscope blanket to continue- it’s a lovely surprise every month! And I can’t wait to start my poncho with my beautiful Cascade peruvian yarn too. Busy busy!!

Happy hooking people!!

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Good for my tummy brownies

Good-for-my-tummy-Brownies

I love making hess brownies, especially as they are good-for-my-tummy, and I know I can enjoy them without feeling ill. They are gluten and dairy free so don’t keep so well (oh dear!), I just eat them and treat myself when they’re gone they’re gone.

How to make Good-for-my-tummy- brownies:

200g dark chocolate melted- no dairy (70% is good)

100g gluten free flour

100ml sunflower oil

2 eggs

100g sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

Method::

Mix all the ingredients and put into a lined 23cm square tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180c. It should be a bit soft, but not sinking , in the middle. leave to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before devouring! :O)Image

::Outside again::

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It always amazes me how quickly you begin to feel better when you’ve been ill, if you can venture outside again. Half term took a turn for the worse when my asthma decided it didn’t like the bronchial virus that struck mid-week, so staying warm and cosy became a priority. Not being able to breathe is a very scary feeling, typically like ‘the elephant on the chest’ that people often refer to when having an asthma attack. But this asthma attack didn’t work like that: it crept up on me over time making me feel tired, cold and breathless. I wondered when I would be able to go outside again.

So this week I took advantage of being at home, snuggly warm (and somewhat tired) to complete projects, watch T.V movies that had been stored on the hard drive since Christmas, enjoy tasty foods (my tastebuds were seriously struggling, everything tasted so bland) and generally fully recharge my batteries. I really did enjoy the full Lord of the Rings trilogy, all nearly 10 hours of it… but my goodness I just wish they’d got there sooner! In the end my week turned out very productive, and I did get lots of rest. More than once I discovered myself asleep on the sofa, snuggled under my blanket realising that poor Frodo had suddenly taken a turn for the worse too without me noticing!

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::Monday: I completed little Em crochet granny square blanket.

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::Tuesday: I wound all of my beautiful yarn for my next crochet projects.

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::Wednesday: I designed and transferred my blog to a brand spanking new home (here!) including a montage of all my bits and bobs and crochet, knitted and patchwork makes.

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::Thursday: I made yummy food. Gluten and dairy free brownies the recipe is on this post Good-for-my-tummy-brownies.

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::Friday: Hooray! I ventured outside again and filled my lungs with Cumbrian, oh-so-fresh-and tinglingly-cool air and paddled in the mud. It was glorious and so exhilarating to finally be outside again and to feel the air and the sun on my face, my cheeks glowed and it did make my nose run rather a lot (tissues were definitely needed). But my lungs did thank me for the pleasure of new air with a sound sleep and virtually no coughing! No, not much at all!

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::Saturday: I went outside again to the market in the wonderful town of Keswick and in my basket I bought…

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…some lovely fresh beetroot, a beautiful watermelon, a deliciously scented bunch of parsley and some vintage-styly cup cake cases. Aren’t they adorable? I also visited the Cafe26 and had… lemon drizzle cake with blueberries and a lovely Americano Coffee! (Can you see my beautiful crocheted neck warmer cowl- I’m wearing it right now as I write, it really does keep me so snug – I got that finished too but that’s for another post).

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It just shows how sometimes your body will let you know when it really has had enough and it needs you to Stop, take a moment and sit back and recover. I’m getting better at reading the signs that my body has had enough, this time however I didn’t take heed, I thought I could win through and keep going, half term was looming, it would be fine. Clearly not.

So it is with renewed lungs, recharged batteries and faith in my resolve that I return, excitedly and very welcomed, back to my class and job as Deputy head in school. It is a very demanding job, in reality it isn’t 9-3.30 as anyone who knows or lives with a teacher will know. I will try my best to ‘take it steady’ next week, as the asthma nurse has recommended. But I am feeling better and longing to be going outside again.

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