The Holly and the Ivy

One of my favourite Christmas activities is decorating my friend J’s house for Christmas with traditional holly and ivy. I have a couple of spots where I gather the holly and ivy from as I use holly with berries on which are dotted through the garlands. This year the usual holly bush was stripped bare of berries which caused me some consternation. Luckily I found a quiet source a day or so later. As I had some of both left, I set about making J an extra present of an wreath. The tutoring I had received from my lovely friend Anna came into mind and I am ever so pleased with the result. I was observed by the careful eyes of dear Tabby who knows that with Christmas come great hoards of children. She loves a quiet life so I expect she will be hiding away.

Yarny adventures

Earlier in the summer my local yarn shop friend Linda was asking for volunteers to help run her yarn shop when she went on holiday. Like a shot I said yes. After all, it isn’t every day that a knitter gets to spend a whole day in a yarn shop. Nevertheless I had an amazing time and volunteered to keep volunteering. So I came back this week and got to dress the Christmas tree. Knitted garlands are brilliant with pompoms for a knitter! While I was over there I saw this cute tree.

But nothing can beat a cute Claude.

Christmas decorating

In honour of Bob and Louise’s arrival, we had a Christmas scene assembled complete with tiny lights and snow. I had just been to the Wealden Times Midwinter Fair and fell in love with these beautiful vintage wooden toys. My friend Anna suggested that I use them for a Christmas decoration and even supplied the child labour to help me arrange it. I bought a couple more brush trees to complete the landscape and a plan was formulated.

Claude is slightly in love with it and needs a little supervision. I’ve not been to that fair before. I loved it.

I got this gorgeous church lantern there too. It looks fab with the tiny tree.

Today I started in on the front of the house and went to Anna’s to make a wreath with her and B.

I had a little idea of what I wanted to achieve. Anna generously let me cut a load of greenery and berries from her garden and this is the first wreath I made. I made it for Jan.

I love the mistletoe berries and I learnt such a lot from Anna about wreath making.

This is the second one I made for home.

I think it turned out well.

Tamyra has no opinion whatsoever.

Stir up Sunday +7

I’m slightly late to the Stir up Sunday tradition this year. I decided on a flour free cake and used this recipe for Healthy Christmas Cake. For the observant amongst you, you will see a nutty fruity topping on the cake. This is due to me using part of a fruit cake kit with presoaked fruit that I had lurking in the cupboard. It was in the box and I thought it would look pretty 🙂

Katerina is testing out her new gift. I hosted a little Syjunta gathering yesterday and one of my guests donated a tassel to her.

Mrspao’s Butternut squash lasagne

Here’s another low carb recipe I put together. I’ve been wanting to try butternut squash lasagne for a while now. I spotted a pack and a plan came together. My neighbour had given me some fancy-looking goat’s cheese and since pao hates all cheese, I figured this would be a good way of using it. I used: 1 pack of butternut lasagne sheets 1 roll of goat’s cheese 1 pack of sausage meat (around 250g) – my sausage meat came with seasoning all included so I chose sausage with apricot and garlic in it as I thought the sweetness would counteract the sharpness of the goat’s cheese. (Note: I did also have a pot of butternut squash and sage sauce which I left somewhere so I had to make do without it) I used two smaller Le Creuset dishes as they are perfectly sized for two portions each. I often make lasagne in these because they aren’t so heavy 🙂 I buttered my dish to prevent sticking and laid my butternut at the bottom then followed it with meat then butternut then cheese layers. I was a bit flummoxed by my top layer as I had planned to use the missing sauce with goats cheese on top so had to come up with a plan B. I did put the goats cheese on the top but dotted butter around it just so it didn’t get too crisp. I may not do this step in future but it was nice anyway. This is how it turned out and it tasted great, too! I think I’d like to try butternut lasagne sheets again. No one seems to have come up with a short name for those? Buttsagne? Lasnut? My comfort chillax with my lasagne as Olivia brought me a shrew! It took 45 minutes to capture it and release it back into the night. She wasn’t impressed when I shut her out of the room whilst I was catching it!

The holidays are coming!

The Schlossmachers are here! This always marks the start of Christmas for me.

I ended up meeting them in London instead of our original plan and it did mean that we could visit the Good Yarn Stall at Spitalfields Market.

So much beautifulness.

We saw llamas

And mini woolly Katerinas.

I accidentally discovered a feature of my new phone

And we had a brilliant Sunday dinner. See you next year! Sad times for Tamyra, Claude and Katerina who have missed out but next time.

The summer of finishing off – Part 2

When I was in the USA with Jeanne last year, I was furiously knitting away at my Swoon shawl-cardigan in hopes of getting it finished by the end of my holiday. I was, however, distracted by a beautiful shawl and mini-skeins acquired as a birthday gift in Duluth so laid it aside as I didn’t think lace was very portable on a road trip. So I had been working away on this Swoon in Madeline Tosh yarn and enjoyed many happy hours sitting in Jeanne’s then Eileen’s working on this and thinking it wouldn’t be too long to get it finished and wearable when I got home again. WRONG! These small creatures entered my life and wrecked my knitting. So this summer with the prospect of quiet houses and less excited feline company meant I got to finish it off. I had just one piece of lace to knit and then attached it all to the main part of the shawdigan, I had no help. It was great. And I was able to block it in peace. And dry it without it being attacked or dragged off by a growling grey kitten. I think it turned out rather beautiful. I love it. Hugo was such a champ. Not at all interested. A perfect knitting cat friend.

Caturday #catwash

Tamyra is not known as a hive of activity in the washing and action front so we have had to have her groomed over the summer. She was getting a bit whiffy so we booked her for a deluxe wash and blow dry. Readying her for Bob! She looks stunning. Ready for loving!

Cauliflower pizza (low carb)

I’ve been working on lowering my carb intake lately so I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower and courgettes instead of rice and pasta. I was missing a bit of Friday night pizza so thought I’d give this pizza idea a go but adapted it for what I had in the fridge. The original recipe mixes the base with goats cheese but I wanted my cheesy hit on top. For the base: 250g cauliflower rice (you can make this yourself by pulsing raw cauliflower to a rice like texture) 2 medium eggs Pinch of salt Cook your cauliflower rice for approx 4-5 minutes. Pour into a fine mesh colander and use the back of a spoon to squash out the excess liquid. Mix in 2 eggs to form a loose dough. Spread this onto a baking parchment. I made a slight lip on the edge of the pizza base to contain the toppings. Bake at 220C until golden and firmed up. You could even grate a little parmesan into you base if you wish before baking it for a more cheesy hit. You then just need to go wild with your toppings and cook those for another 8-9 minutes. I used some leftover cumin gouda, asparagus tips and a few spoons of passata. Bonus Cat pic 🙂 Katerina is getting her winter coat through.

The summer of finishing off – Part 1

It is ridiculously difficult to knit with Claude and Katerina around. Whenever, I get knitting out, a weird crazed expression comes over their faces and they cannot leave me alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. So knitting has been difficult and blocking more so.

I’ve had to resort to saving my knitting activities for a cat sitting stint. Ironic? Yes, I know.

I started this Textured shawl in 2013 and I loved the spinning of the yarn, the plying and the knitting. I had one bobbin of yarn left and worried a little about if it would be big enough or there would be yarn enough. Of course, the bobbin and yarn were like crack to those kittens. It was the worst sort of yarn as the kittens are quite keen on the natural fibres.

I got to a stage where I was finished as far as I was concerned as I didn’t want to spin any more yarn as that would be a whole new adventure for Claude and Katerina.

I have been looking forward to seeing what the blocked version was like. If you’ve been on Instagram, you would have had a peek at this detail.

It was great to have the space and absence of pesky kittens to get this blocked properly.

The yarn really opened up and despite the little curls, I thought the shawl looked pretty wonderful.

I managed to get a little photo shoot in my friend’s garden

And my friend’s cat Hugo came for a look at what I was doing but not a paw touched the shawl. I was impressed.