Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday 25th November 2012

On these dark winter nights I've been watching a lot of television but I can't sit with idle hands..I'm STILL working on that granny quilt but need a break now and then so have been playing with making crocheted flower brooches. 



Very easy and not requiring much wool, these are perfect for multi-tasking except for Saturday nights when I have to concentrate on the subtitles of the wonderful Forbrydelsen..also known in Britain as The Killing. My Danish being limited to "ping" (money), "tak" (thanks) and "dod" (dead) I have to keep my eyes on the box but it's no hassle ; I got to know the Wallander series first and miss that terribly but of course there have been a few good Scandinavian series on BBC4 in the last year or two. Interesting to see another culture apart from the American stuff that has become such a big part of our lives. Films like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo have followed the popularity of the books of course but my favourite Scandi writer has to be Jo Nesbo (pronounced "Yo Nesbo" by the way!) His book The Snowman was gruesome in places but also gripping.I still feel a bit queasy when I think of the eyeball scene!! I think I have all the Harry Hole detective novels written by Nesbo apart from the latest which I'm waiting to go into paperback.I don't know if you read in bed..I do..but often drop off to sleep whilst reading so paperbacks are so much better than hardbacks to manage in bed. Nothing worse than being startled out of sleep by the heavy clunk of a falling book!


I've been doing some simple printing with balloons at work with my clients. This is so easy and is suitable for even quite disabled people or young children..we just dipped balloons into thick paint and printed randomly..the balloons made beautiful markings and reminded me of chrysanthemum flowers.. 

I'm yawning now so will say goodnight ..thanks for joining me here.Do feel free to write a comment or just say Hello.  xx

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday 23rd November 2012

Stages of Christmas cake.. last weekend the house was filled with the heavenly smell of oranges, spices, cocoa, Tia Maria...yes, Christmas cake time has come round again. For most of my life my mother made "the cake" and insisted on giving me a portion to have at my home but she gave up doing this about five years ago so at last I have felt able to do to do the traditional thing myself,and in role reversal typical of our stage of life (child becoming parent to the parent) it's now me sending a big piece over to my parents. I love the ritual of it all..normally I never follow recipes, just use memory and common sense, except for this cake. I saw Nigella making this recipe on her t.v. series and have used it ever since..to me it's the perfect seasonal cake.

It starts with a big panful of raisins, currants, chopped prunes (yes,really), spices, butter, honey, muscovado sugar...



                                       ..add orange zest and juice, Tia Maria, cocoa...



                         ..simmer, then rest to let the fruit swell, add eggs and plain flour  



                                    ..bake in a lined tin..no need for marzipan or icing...



                ..a simple dusting of edible glitter is all I add then the alchemy is complete!



                            A piece parcelled-up for Grandma and Grandad. Job done :-)



                                                                Thanks Nigella !!



So.. if you live in Wales you will be very lucky if you haven't suffered from extreme weather today..stormy winds, torrential rain and for some unfortunate people flooding. We were affected in a small way. I drove through three flooded stretches of road to pick up Daughter2 after work..quite scary as it was dusk and difficult to tell how deep the water would be. Then Daughter1 was stranded at Llandudno Junction on a train for nearly five hours. Part of the A55 main road from Anglesey to Llandudno was flooded and closed for several hours, along with the train line so there was nothing for her to do but sit it out ..luckily she was sitting with a friendly old lady and she never goes anywhere without a book so she was able to read.The train people handed out free hot drinks too,so no great harm done in the end..nothing compared to the poor people whose homes have been flooded.  

Last week I went down to Port Dinorwic to visit my hairdresser..not quite as bad as going to the dentist but not something I look forward to. However, the salon is just by the dock where my family kept a boat for thirty years so it was a trip mixed with memories. The lock gates were open and you could just about look straight out onto the Menai Straits..





                                        and this was looking inland into the dock...





                                            l loved the play of light on the water...




                                    ..as usual my eye honed in on a nice bit of rust! Love rust :-)



Are you getting Christmassy yet?? I must admit that despite the rising panic I always get at this time of year I'm also enjoying the general excitement..the cake of course started me off, and then I've made a mural with my clients at work of two snowy branches of robins , most of the robins wearing stripy hats and scarves or ear-muffs. Nothing like a robin for putting a smile on your face.

      Ooh, almost weekend, hurray..hope yours is a good one wherever you are. xx

Friday, 9 November 2012

Friday 10th november 2012

A lovely visit to Beaumaris for me this week...I had a crappy start to the week with lots of family stress..my mother in particular has had lots of ill health and pain and this week was made even more miserable by being the target of cold call bullying and being tricked into buying expensive health supplements she neither wanted nor needed..the trouble with getting to my stage in life is that my kids aren't yet off my hands but I feel I will also increasingly become a parent to my own parents as they become more frail and vulnerable. After a lots of expensive phone calls and resorting to shouting at a ruthless manipulator who specialises in targeting old and vulnerable people I was ready for an hour by the sea to release all my pent-up tensions. My daughter had a sudden yearning for Beaumaris so, as it's only ten minutes away, we escaped for a couple of hours. There's something uplifting about approaching Beaumaris..the pretty pastel-painted houses like giant dolls' houses always make me smile.The water was very still and reflected the colours well. The houses sometimes reminds me of the pretty houses going down to the harbour in Tenby though these are a bit grander.



 About fifteen years ago I worked in Beaumaris for four years as the town's youth leader and got to know the kids from the council estate pretty well. Goodness, that was a hard job..two evenings a week..up to 45 kids, some of them with behaviour problems, sometimes coping on my own if my assistant didn't turn up. I tried to give them an interesting youth club with craft activities, sporting events and competitions, table tennis, pool table,darts, ice-skating..we even put on a show at the town hall..there would of course always be one or two who tried to make life hell for you but in general I was very fond of the kids and am still in contact with one or two. I eventually moved on to other clubs at Pentraeth, Benllech and Moelfre  (all small towns on Anglesey) and was also a peripatetic arts and crafts instructor going round the island and also a few clubs on the mainland for about fifteen years..I still have a soft spot for tricky teenagers..I guess it never quite leaves you, seeing the sometimes chaotic life of a young person struggling and wanting to help them.

There was actually the first of this winter's snow on the mountains across the Menai Straits but unfortunately the low-lying cloud prevented a good photograph..still the shiny shimmery water more than made up for it..


My daughter is a complete mini-me and sees a photo-op wherever she goes! She is also never knowingly out and about, even to the beach, without her huge handbag!



We went into the Janet Bell gallery and enjoyed browsing through all the lovely paintings and crafts. Phoebe particularly has her eye on a lovely painted green tin heart-shaped necklace so I can see I'll have to sneak back pretty soon!  I spotted these old water pumps near the castle..imagine having to pump water and carry it home - still a reality for many of the poorest people in the world I know. We don't know how lucky we are with our taps and flush toilets, vacuum cleaners and washing machines.




                                                  A beady-eyed Beaumaris beauty...



All this cold weather has brought out the gloves and scarves...and an excuse to get knitting (if excuses were ever needed!) My daughters love the fingerless gloves I made them last year and one of them has requested an extra pair so I've been busy busy..though this easy pattern only takes an evening to knit up. I adapted the pattern, albeit on a scrappy bit of paper which I'm sure to lose.I must get more organised!





I had an OMG moment yesterday when I suddenly remembered the hyacinth bulbs I'd started off in bulb vases in a dark place in the garage..I found them fully rooted and ready to burst upwards so a good time to bring them into the light and warmth..I'll show the flowers if and when they open.




I am slightly regretting my decision to make calendars for the new year at work with my classes. We got hold of the ones that have a blank space for your own photos on each month's page ,about A5 size. I did this a couple of years ago and we are doing the same again..making a picture, not a photo, to reflect the month of the year. Some things are obvious.. summer beach scene for August,spring flowers for April, a spooky castle with ghosts for October, a Welsh flag for March (St David's Day being a big thing here)..the tricky thing is coordinating all the calendars so that all months are covered for all clients, even if they miss a session or two. Christmas mural, party table decorations and Christmas cards follow soon..I do so LOVE robins and glitter!