Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Dots-or-stripes' Review of the Year

This is the blog entry where I look back at the past year, and consider whether I met my aims as expressed in my New Year's Resolutions.

Overall, I would say 2010 has not been a bed of roses. Although I've written almost nothing about it on this blog, I've had a lot of teenager-related trouble. The temporary acting-up job I took on in April turned out to be much more stressful than I had anticipated. I had other job-related anxiety due to my substantive post being threatened with redundancy. I'm learning to live with this, just like many other public sector workers in the UK. This means although I achieved my resolution to stay employed in 2010 - I'll need to renew it for 2011.

The other three resolutions were craft related, as follows:

  • to increase my knitting output. In a complete reversal from 2009, I've finished over 20 knitted items and only a handful of sewn items. Next year, a more balanced approach between the two would be better. Having written that, I'm planning my second OWL, which means a lot of knitting until end March.
  • to complete at least one item off my list of four languishing items. Achieved in March, when I finished the Regatta stole. Nothing else has been added to the list, so it's now down to three items. I intend to get another long term WIP off there next year.
  • to learn a new skill, such as crochet. Erm... I learned how to do crochet chains. I have used these to edge a couple of washcloths, and to make wrist ties for a pair of mittens. So I can't really claim success on this one.
I also said I would spend less time on the computer, but I totally ignored that one :-)

Look out for my 2011 craft resolutions in early January.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

The rest of the christmas baking is done:

Just for clarity, those are cranberries on top of the little cakes - not holly berries, as ds enquired! I don't put poisonous berries on top of my cakes :-)

All presents are wrapped, and advance preparations for christmas dinner are done, including the cranberry sauce:

Merry Christmas to all my readers! See you soon!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Winter wonderland

No respite from the Arctic chill here. Here's a view of my road in the snow:

I made a cake, and it also looked snow-topped. Ds was still at school today, so I could do my preferred understated icing!

This is yet another Nigella recipe - the snow-topped spice cake from How to be a domestic goddess. I make this every year, instead of a traditional christmas cake. My dad makes me one of those, so this is a good contrast.

In between making and icing the cake, I also made mince pies.

I've not finished with the christmas cookery yet, as there are three packets of cranberries in my fridge, and not all of them are needed for the sauce.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Reindeer biscuits

... and snowmen, angels, christmas trees and holly leaves, as seen below:

Baking christmas biscuits is becoming an annual ritual for ds and me. This year, we used the recipe for christmas decoration biscuits from Nigella's How to be a domestic goddess  - and I'm pleased to report the taste test compared favourably with last year's version.  ETA: the recipe I used is available free on the Net, I have discovered. So if you want to make these, you can find the recipe here.

We have a set of christmas cookie cutters that come out annually for this purpose:

Every year, I want to be restrained and use plain white icing with a sparse scattering of silver pearls, a la Nigella, but ds insists on colouring some icing bright green (for the holly leaves) and also sprinkling handfuls of sugar strands. Of course he wins! Not least because the decoration is primarily his affair. My job is to make and roll the biscuit dough, cut out the shapes, and finish off if he gets bored.

Really liking the finished article, though. Regard these merry deer running through the greenwood:

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Instructions for married life

I came back from the shops this morning with yellow roses. And found dh waiting for me, with a bunch of freesias. Both these flowers were at our wedding.

It's eighteen years ago this weekend since we got married, long before the days of digital photography, but I do have one scanned photo, of us signing the register:

How young I look! And I no longer have curly hair [cough. Those curls were not natural!]

Since then, we've known good times and we've known hard times. Our children have brought us both joy and substantial challenge. In spite of the ups and downs, not only are we still together, both of us are still buying flowers for the other, to mark our anniversary, and that can't be bad.

Monday, 6 December 2010

O christmas tree

I'm really enjoying the pre-christmas rituals this year, not least because ds is entering into the swing of things so whole-heartedly. Spot him as an elf, assisting with tree decorating above!

Dd hung a few things on the tree but retired defeated owing to feeling rather poorly. Here she is snuggled up with a lemsip.

Note double layer of hoodies in an effort to beat the winter chill. The central heating is on, but the UK is being blasted by air currents direct from Siberia at present and it is pretty cold.  I've been trudging along icy pavements in my wellies to get to work.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Gift list

Here are some of this year's hand-made christmas presents:

1. Very easy knitted lavender bag. I simply cast on enough stitches for 4 sets of horseshoe lace repeats, worked 3 vertical repeats and a picot cast-off, sewed side and bottom seam, sewed a little voile bag to go inside for lining, filled with lavender, threaded ribbon through a set of eyelets near top and tied in a bow.

2. Knitted washcloth. This is just the standard ball-band dishcloth pattern from the inside of the Peaches & Creme cotton yarn wrapper, made with Faded Demin ombre and solid eggshell colourways. When presented with a bar of soap, it will make a nice small gift.

This brings my current hand-knitted gifts tally to 6. About to cast on for pair of socks next - hope I can finish them in time.

Continued snow and freezing temperatures has put paid to dh's (work) trip to Paris; my mother's christmas-shopping visit has had to be postponed; dd's weekend trip to stay with her sister in London now looks doubtful. I'm hoping I will actually be able to get to the shops fairly soon, as I really need to do some actual shopping, or Santa's sleighload will be extremely meagre this year - above knitting notwithstanding.