Life

That time of year….

I don’t do Halloween but this time of year means two other things to me…

Number one is that Nanowrimo starts tomorrow!  For those who are not aware (or have not heard me go on about it) Nano is the National Write a Novel in a Month challenge.  Write 50,000 words in November, or 1667 words per day, and you have the base of a novel…. I’ve only won the once but generally take part.  This year however a change, not fan-fiction but original fiction, a murder mystery set in 1847.  A feisty Scottish governess in a closed environment of death…. here goes!

 

Number two for me is the white dog in my blog title.  The black dog I borrowed from Churchill, my mental health issues, but the white dog I adopted seven years ago today.

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Honestly, I’m not sure why I put him in there either!

 

This is Conall, it means strong wolf in gaelic and it made me giggle.  He is my heart and my little baby.

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When he needs a haircut he looks like a womble – a name he now responds to!

 

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I promise this is the same dog.

 

So, happy seventh anniversary and half birthday….. my little man.

Crafting

The Sun melts butter and hardens clay….

It has been far too long since I posted here but since the apple cake I’ve been on holiday with my parents (Cornwall – yay!) and been up and down like a zip.

Anyway.  In terms of crafting, knitting and crochet have continued as usual (Christmas is coming people) but a newer activity has been raising it’s head (since the buttons on my red cardi)….. polymer clay.

Yesterday I tried three new techniques and I thought I would share them here.

Using temporary tattoo’s on clay.

This is a fairly simple technique using just clay, a tattoo and water.

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Roll out a mixture of white and translucent clay, check that the plaque cutter will fit, and peel the clear cover from the tattoo.

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Place the tattoo face down onto the clay and CAREFULLY wet the back of the paper (not the clay).  Lift the backing paper, I used forceps to avoid leaving fingerprints.  Put a hole at the top if you plan for it to be a pendant, leave this out to make a brooch.

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Using a rose cutter.

A rose cutter is a cutter designed to help you make a rose from fondant icing – but anything that works for icing works for clay.

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Roll out a mixture of translucent, red and red glitter clay (bits and pieces together) until there is enough space for the cutter.  Lift the shape with a blade, this ensures that the next step does not glue the clay to the surface.

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Gently press down the edges of all the rounds with a rounding tool then fold carefully in half.  Roll up, pressing the folded edge rather than the top to leave the petals free.  Spread out the petals to resemble a rose more accurately, then cut off the base of excess clay and place in a tray to bake.

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Using a flower mould.

A silicone mould again designed for fondant is the third technique I tried this week. First I dusted the inside with cornflour, to make sure the clay would come out.

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Using the same mix of clay as the cutter roses you need to make sure that the clay is very warm and flexible.  Press the clay into the mould then use a blade to slice the clay off level with the top of the mould.

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Then turn out the flower by flexing the mould and bake.

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Final results.

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I feel happy with these results and so I’ve ordered some fancier tattoos and will try with them….. yay!!!

Baking

If life gives you apples, make cake.

I used to bake a lot and have started again recently, using my oven for more than just casseroles (although I do love a good casserole!)

This weekend I tried a recipe from one of my mum’s cook books and wow, it was great so I thought I’d share.

NORWEGIAN APPLE CAKE (with thanks to Mr Marks and Mr Spencer whose cook book we found the original in)

Whisk together 2 good sized eggs and 200 g of caster sugar until thick and creamy.

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Then add 150 ml of milk and 100 g of butter into a pan and melt together, stirring until it is boiling.

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Add the boiling mixture into the eggs and sugar.  Then sieve in 175 g plain flour and 3 teaspoons of baking powder and fold in carefully.

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Grease a 20 x 30 cm roasting tin (I kept back an old butter wrapper to do this – learned well from mum), then pour the batter into the dish.

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I then added a teaspoon of cinnamon, swirling it through the batter so that it was randomly dispersed.  Then peel, core and slice a cooking apple and arrange the slices on top of the batter before sprinkling with 25 g of caster sugar and baking at 180 degrees fan for 25 minutes or until raised and golden.

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This tasted great with a good custard and is also very good with ice cream.

Baking

All sorrows are less with bread…

My bread making goes in phases, the most recent ones guided by a lovely book written by a Doctor from my homeland.

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Dr Morton, as he should now properly be called, was a finalist on ‘The Great British Bake Off’ in 2012.  He blogs at Baking James and is well worth a read, in print and online.

 

The recipe I use is actually the first one in the book, a recipe for Basic White Bread.  It is a simple ‘no knead needed’ version of bread and it has never failed me.

The new thing for me this time was the LÉKUÉ Silicone bread maker, from Lakeland (the BEST SHOP EVER, and one I’m not really allowed in without supervision – my wallet can’t take it!).

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This lovely device allows you to mix, prove, knead, rise and bake your loaf in one container – NO EXTRA WASHING UP!!  So.  here is a quick guide to how I did it (can you tell I’m proud of it!)

  1. Weigh and mix the ingredients then leave to rest and grow under a damp tea towel.IMG_0639
  2. Using a wet hand scoop and fold the dough, turning the maker by quarters until it is smooth.  Cover again and leave for a full hour until doubled in size.IMG_0641
  3. Knock back and knead before shaping.IMG_0640
  4. Allow another hour of rising.
  5. Score and bake in preheated oven, at least 40 minutes for a deep gold crust and no soggy bottoms.IMG_0643    IMG_0644

 

I took the loaf over to my parents and let Mum have the first cut – we did try it before dinner though!

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So, full marks for recipe and bread maker – I’m getting there!!

Knitting

There is a shade of red for every woman…

Well, start a blog and finish a cardigan…. some day.

Whole Cardigan

This is based on Stefanie Japel’s lovely Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan on knitty.com, find it here: Cardigan

It is adapted for me as I’m much shorter and quite a bit more curvy than the lovely Dr Japel, also I prefer bracelet or elbow sleeves rather than full length ones.  I also edged it in seed stitch rather than the rib of the original pattern.

I chose the yarn (Stylecraft Special with Wool) as I have knit with it before and it works beautifully.  Clear stitch definition, easy to tink and washes too!

The colour was easy too.  As Audrey Hepburn said, “There is a shade of red for every woman.”  I adore red: clothes, shoes and lips.

Probably my favourite part is the buttons.  I’ve recently begun to play with Fimo clay and these buttons are the result.  The knit effect is done by twisting ropes together and I made them into shank buttons by embedding split rings before baking them hard.

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All together a great result.