Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010...Review of the year...Crochet

Crochet has played a big part in my life this year.  It has taken over as my main hobby and obsession and I would be completely lost without my set of hooks and a ball of wool.  Looking at the projects above, on reflection it does look like I have jumped from one thing to another as a whim has struck me, and I wish I had a bit more consistency for a 'bigger' or more focused project.  But I guess that's me in a nutshell -always keen to try new things but then easily distracted by something else. I have gained a great deal from spreading the crochet word this year, both through my blog and the local classes  I have been teaching - a few sketchy plans for 2011 would be to continue with a few more classes and perhaps set up an Etsy shop selling a few bits and bobs, although saying that, I'm not sure what my focus would be regarding Etsy - sometimes I feel the crochet market is already well and truly covered with lovely things.

One things for sure 2011 is going to be another year of crochet for me.

**Hogmanay/New Years day plans cancelled here, due to oldest bear now being the latest one to come down with this flu thing  - looks like its going to be a quiet one tonight, oh well, there's always my crochet and a large glass of wine!!**

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Goodbye 2010...Review in Photos...Family..

...2010 -You've been good to us - a year of new challenges and experiences, good health, new job, discovering the joys of caravaning with my small beloved family, 2 trips abroad (thanks to the wonders of budget airlines!), time spent with family,  lots of crocheting and reading, cakes, baking, snow, along with many other joyful moments - here's to a stupendous 2011  !!!!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

That was that then..

Currently sitting by the fire, sipping the last of the Christmas fizz - Christmas has been a quiet but fun family affair in the Northern Hi-lights household.  Lots of excessive eating and drinking, (cooking went well this year, well worth the fore-thought and planning) a bit of illness (littlest bear unwell with a virus, so poorly he couldn't even eat his Christmas sweeties!) and after a pretty frosty Christmas day, the thaw has set in bringing dirty slush and grey drizzle.  Have spent a fair bit of time in the past few 'no-mans land' of  days mulling over 2010, dreaming and making plans for 2011.

Thanks to My Pangaloon  for this brilliant link - I have been having fun giving my digital photos a Polaroid effect (see above, a cunning way of disguising the wrinkles!!)

Hope everyone is feeling relaxed after the excesses of Christmas - Any plans for Hogmanay?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

.......and R - E - L - A - X.....

Finished off some last minute gifts this morning whilst the boys played a very loud and raucous game of table football.. I found this idea on Lola Nova's website, and crocheted around a couple of old plastic bag handles to make these frames.  I am a great hoarder of prints/postcard/greetings cards, so it was nice to find a home for at least 2 of them.  I hot-glued a sheet of acetate to the front and then the card behind -these are massively addictive to make, might just have to go and cut up a few more old bags for the handles!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

December Birthdays...

....we've got a couple in our family - My little sis Laura who lives in Canada and my Mum who lives in NE England, so I have to be organised to get things posted early enough to beat the Christmas rush.  Laura was easy this year (thank you Amazon!) but I wanted to crochet mum something special, so most of my December crocheting has been taken up making this:-

This is the 4th time I have made this cardigan, I love the pattern, it's a top down style, which means no seams, and surprisingly uses very little yarn.  I crocheted this particular cardi using Bamboo tape, which was particularly pleasing to work with, resulting in a nice heavy drapey finished item.  It's always tricky making something for somebody else, especially clothing, but I always go with the idea -'if I would wear it...' and actually, this cardigan would fit perfectly into my everyday wardrobe.

I have to admit I was close to the wire finishing this present, I ran out of time to sew on buttons, so added a brooch instead. Not sure it looks 100% right, but Mum can always change it if she likes.

Managed most of my grocery shopping today (yeah!!) - have ordered my duck breasts from our local butcher, AND have actually managed to post some Christmas cards! Last day of school/work tomorrow - I am soooooo looking forward to slobbing out in pajamas on Wednesday morning...♥♥

Sunday, 19 December 2010

She's Making a list...

Most of the organised people I know are 'list makers'..I am not a list maker and also not a particularly organised person either.  However, as we are hosting Christmas this year and I want to keep stress to a minimum, today I did some menu planning and wrote a food shopping list of epic proportions.  I'm pretty sure I have missed a lot of things off and I'm also faced with the problem of the snow again - the local roads are atrocious and I can't see me driving anywhere unless conditions improve. I was in our local supermarket last week looking for duck breasts for Christmas day and apparently they don't sell duck, might have to have a back up plan.  We aren't doing the turkey and trimmings this year,  but I have a delicious meal planned nevertheless. I'm pretty sure the schools will be closed again tomorrow due to the snow, so last minute Christmas stocking shopping for the boys is now out the window. I'm getting there though, and the lists are helping - how is your last minute planning going?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Last minute Gifts?

So much crafty inspiration all over blog-land right now - so many things, so little time... Here are a few of my favourites:-
'Mary go round' crochet flower ring over at Lola Nova's blog.  I'm working on one of these right now using an old bag handle - love the idea of making these into picture frames - could tick the box for one of those last minute gifts...

or these gorgeous gift tags at Jolene's blog

Not sure if my house is minimal enough to carry this beautiful silver branch idea off - but it does looks great

I have always wanted to learn how to make these German stars, and I love the idea of using newspaper.
Right now I am finishing off some last minute crocheted gifts - a couple of shawls for Great Grannies and also a birthday present I can hopefully share with you once the recipient's actual birthday has past...As always I am asking myself  'why oh why didn't I start earlier?' - there's always next year I suppose..

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Hangover? What hangover?

Went out for our tea on Sunday night after a long tiring day (on very little sleep) of children's Christmas parties and football Festivals.  The Ashvale Fish and Chip Restaurant has a bit of a reputation in Aberdeen for it's tasty food and HUGE portions...and yes, he did manage to eat it all!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

All Nice and Sparkly

Put our tree up today, and the house is looking very festive and sparkly!

And managed to find the time to assemble my newly crocheted Attic24 Christmas bauble..

It's looking like we are still on for tonights parties too.....better go and get myself ready.....x

Ch Ch Chocolate Balls..

Energy levels low, so it's been one of those weeks where I have neglected my blog and achieved very little.  However, I did manage to re-create an old family favourite in the kitchen - Imaginatively titled 'Chocolate balls' - my Mum used to make these when we were young, and I thought they were the tastiest thing EVER, still are it seems, and judging from the streaks of tell-tale cocoa around his mouth, my youngest has followed in my footsteps of  'chocolate ball thief'. These little babies are very easy to make, and look quite impressive when rolled in cocoa or coconut and popped into a pretty case..

Mag's Chocolate balls

(I wasn't working from an exact recipe, so all measurements are approx.)

1 packet of Digestives
1 tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (plus more for rolling in)
Desiccated coconut (optional)

Place digestives in a bag and crush.

Add cocoa powder to crushed biscuits and mix

Add tin of condensed milk to biscuity mixture and mix together with hands- mixture should be a bit sticky, but not too wet (add more cocoa powder or biscuits if this is the case)

Shape into walnut sized balls and roll in either cocoa powder or coconut


We're putting our Christmas tree up today, and  have also been invited to 2 Christmas parties this evening.  No doubt I will be having a major clothes crisis later on, but also feeling slightly wary as children are complaining of various aches and pains this morning, which will likely put spanner in the works for said evening plans...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Dib, Dib, Dib...

Do you like my new Cub Scout Angel ? (i know, a complete contradiction in terms!)  Our local Cubs were having a Christmas fayre last weekend, so we braved the elements and went along for some mulled wine and a bit of singing.  My eldest son's pack had been busy making Christmas decorations to sell and I thought this peg scout angel was genius!  look at his little 'neckie'! 

We haven't put our Christmas tree up yet, but i couldn't resist picking a couple of fir branches this afternoon whilst out on a walk.  I put them in a nice festive red jug and have perched my peg Cub on top - I'm starting to get that festive feeling!. ...And to keep that feeling going - does anyone remember this?

I bought this a few months ago in our local charity shop - I can remember this series being shown on TV back in the '80's and I thought it was the most wonderful thing - we watched an episode after tea tonight, and ok,  I have to admit the special effects were extremely corny and the acting pretty ropey, but we all sat there was so nostalgic.  Not sure of our plans for this weekend, we are still snow bound, but fortunately Mr N. HL's is back from Germany, I can feel myself heaving a sign of relief and am relaxing into the weekend..

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

December is here!

First day of Advent has arrived, bringing with it our 7th day of snow.  The schools are set to be closed again tomorrow, and with 3 full days of single parenting and extreme weather behind me (husband is typically away this week in Germany, missing all of the fun with the weather!) I am starting to feel it!  I have just made myself a HUGE glass of mulled wine as an end of day adult treat and have sat down with my crochet for some quiet time.

Pulled out all the stops today in an effort to try and keep my two boys busy and away from 1) computer games and 2) Television.  They are both very physical boys mainly happy outside kicking a football or burning off energy in a similar fashion and my dreams of winter days spent crafting and baking were shattered at an early stage of parenting!  By lunch time today they were like caged tigers, positively bouncing off the walls, so off we trudged to the nearest hill again for a spot of sledging - it was bitterly cold today and both were thankfully exhausted by the end of it.

My eldest has started to show a bit more interest in making things with me, and I was quite chuffed at this origami garland we made this morning.

Using a basic 'water bomb' model we made a pile of them and then strung them up to make a nice colourful addition to the kitchen

Very satisfying...

Monday, 29 November 2010

White out on the slopes today....

Schools closed again tomorrow....

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The snow just keeps on snowing...

I know I'm going on about it, but this amount of snow at this time of year is unprecedented.  It's been a day of sub zero temps, blizzards and very little day light - this photo was taken at 2:30 in the afternoon, and the street lights have already come on! On a cheerier note, I made myself a new snow hat last night whilst watching a few episodes of Lost (season 6) on DVD - modeled in the above photo with my littlest boy who was so keen to get in on the photo shoot, I found the pattern on A Beautiful Mess blog.  It's basically a hood, with some plaited ties to keep it close to your face and nice and cosy, which indeed it was.

Speaking of cosy, look what I baked today:-

English Muffins of all things! I have never attempted these before, but they looked pretty easy in the new baking book I received for my birthday, and as son number one loves anything that can be toasted I gave them a whirl and they turned out a treat!

Here's the simple recipe for anyone who fancies giving them a go:-

English Muffins

450g / 1 lb white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 sachet of dried yeast
250 ml /9 fl oz lukewarm water
125 ml/ 4 fl oz natural yogurt
40g/ 1.5 oz semolina (or polenta)

Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in bowl.  Add water and yogurt and stir until dough begins to come together.  Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic.  Shape dough into a ball and cover with damp tea towel and leave to rise for 30 -40 mins.  (OR YOU CAN CHEAT LIKE ME AND USE THE DOUGH SETTING ON YOUR BREAD MACHINE!)

Knead dough on a floured surface, then roll out until it is 2cm / 3/4 inch thick.  Cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter and sprinkle each round with the semolina.  Transfer rounds to a baking sheet, cover and leave for 30 mins. 

heat a griddle or large frying pan over a medium heat - add muffins and cook for 7 -8 mins on each side until golden brown.

Delicious buttered hot straight from the pan, or toasted with scrambled eggs as we did for tea tonight.

Friday, 26 November 2010

And the Winner is...........

Apologies for the delay in posting the winner of my robin giveaway - Schools closed early (due to severe weather) so the boys and I have been out playing in the snow this afternoon and ended the day meeting Mr Northern Hi-lights in our local Curry House for tea and a few pints of Kingfisher.  So, there's been quite a bit more snow since the last post, I reckon there is about a foot of snow on top of my little car now - very beautiful though when the sun comes out..

And so onto the winner, drum roll................

yeah! well done Bonzogirl - send me a message with your address and I will get him posted off to you.

Hope everyone is staying warm and cozy - have a lovely weekend x

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Winter has Arrived...!

It's been snowing...this is the view from my front door this morning - Scandinavian weather front blowing across the North sea apparently.  The school was still open much to the boys disgust this morning, and much to my delight as it's my day off!  I did a bit of token house work, tidied up the breakfast dishes, put away some washing, swept the floors etc..and made a pot of broccoli and stilton soup,

and now I'm going to sit down for a whole 2 hours with my coffee and tunnock's teacake..

and make a start crocheting this:-

P.S - Happy Thanksgiving Day to all American friends!

Brilliant crocheted Turkey from Knotbygranma's Etsy shop.

P.P.S - Don't forget my Robin Giveaway closes tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Keep Calm....

I can be in denial no longer - Christmas is on it's way, and early festivities are racing into our lives if I like it or not. I have just been sitting over lunch filling out our Family calender - December is looking choka block.. School concerts, School Christmas Dinner and Parties, Cub Scout fayre, panto and party, work nights out, mulled wine with friends, more nights out with friends, Christmas shopping, food planning, cards to write......yes I'm panicking...... must start making lists....planning....organising....
I'll start tomorrow, no , Thursday my day off,  and in the mean time I will carry on blissfully unaware that it is December next week and I shall leave you with some pretty images from Living Etc's December edition.