Friday, 15 January 2010

A Bit of a Mix.

The sun has left us again and there is a cold wind in its place. Yesterday was such a contrast with warm sunshine far too good to miss by staying indoors, so Isabella and I headed into the garden with a basket of bulbs. Far too late for planting now, but I was sick of seeing them heaped outside the back door, tiny green shoots already appearing. They can take their chances in the cold soil instead and next year the task will be done on time as this is the Year of Unprevarication! Hmm, we'll see.

Once I was crouching down I could see so many signs of spring, from the masses of striped crocus leaves clustered all around

to the soft unfurling of the new alchemilla leaves. Such a beautiful word - alchemilla. I also love its common name of Lady's Mantle and the way it is so often spangled with crystals, each one holding and reflecting shimmering rainbows in its delicate depths.

In my last post I talked of making a cake and I had just the one in mind: pecan and maple syrup cake. It looked so good in the picture and sounded so good on the page claiming a cake that would be nutty, moist and coated with fluffy mousseline butter cream. It got better as the coating would be flavoured with maple syrup (lots of it), vanilla essence and whisky! Oh Yum! So why did mine come out looking like this?

Each half of the cake sort of fell into pieces. It tasted wonderful - sweet, but wonderful with no flour, only masses of crushed pecan nuts making up the bulk of the mix. One seriously expensive cake this; oh, and sweet too, did I mention that? The coating needed one whole bottle of maple syrup which had to be boiled and then whisked into beaten egg yolks, flavoured with the vanilla and the whisky and then spread onto the cake. Well, I boiled and I boiled...

and I whisked and I whisked, but no way was this butter cream being spread. It was far too liquidy for that and ran off the spoon, but oh the taste. Just gorgeous and rich and so very sweet. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to trial a little portion of the cake with the supposed buttercream as a pouring syrup. Lo and behold: tonight's pudding!

Meanwhile, Dave and I are still knitting like furies (did they knit?) and have both finshed the backs of our various projects. I have actually finished the back and front of my tank top - so love that term - and it looks something like this...

I even discovered thatnks to the wonders of the internet that I had been sewing up shoulder seams the wrong way all these years, now having such neat seams as to make you sigh and bring a tear to an appreciative eye. well, it did to mine anyway. See, you can't tell it's a seam ccan you?

Just the dreaded neck and armbands to go, followed by more seaming, sewing in of loose ends and blocking. Was hoping to head off for a new pattern this weekend, but I think I have a little way to go. However, in my New Year's endeavour to do more crafting for myself as opposed to the never-ending sewing I do for my business I have joined Marmalade Rose's challenge to sew/knit/crochet for at least 20 minutes a day.

Another New Year's revolution was to try to do more for other people. I do a lot for my own family like most of us do, but I have become increasingly aware how lucky I am in my little world. Yes, money is usually a problem to be worried over, the house is an eternal problem which needs sorting, the children I fret over because I am me BUT I really do love my life and think I am very blessed in the amount of fun and love that flows through it. This year I want to see if I can just think outside myself a little and find some time - that precious commodity - to do a little for those who are not so lucky.

Not sure quite what that will be, but by putting it here I hope I will feel the push to act on it, to unprevaricate and just 'do'. I intend to start by popping over here to find the link to Shelter Box, a wonderful organisation based in Cornwall who helps those coping with disasters such as Haiti is in the aftermath of right now. Perhaps you might join me by clicking and seeing if maybe you could spare a little too to help Diana raise enough for one of these life-saving boxes?

That's me for today. Thank you for all your get well wishes for Miss Lucy who is so much better at last.
have a lovely weekend all xx


  1. The last photo has given me an energising boost of sun! It has been so murky and grey here today but the rain has been a welcome change from the snow! I think your cake looks yummy as a pudding. I fancy eating that right now! You have got on great with your tank top. I would love to wear tank tops again. I remember my nan knitting me one in the '70's that was salmon pink, black and red stripes!!! x

  2. Lovely post again Pippany! Love that knitting - the colours are so soft and subtle. Sorry about your cake but hey some you win and some you lose and it was edible just not in the way you expected! We noticed a swathe of nodding yellow daffodils alongside the road near us yesterday - they'd been hiding unde rhte snow. Hundreds more in bud a little further along so Spring WILL come!!

    Jane x

  3. The cake looks delicious as a pudding! Love your pretty tank top, but where is the seam? I have squinted at the screen and still can't see it!
    The Haiti disaster is just terrible, the poor people! I donated through the Red Cross, I hope they get relief to them quickly! Makes me count my blessings!
    Rachel x

  4. I love the way you write and illustrate your blogs. That cake made me really hungry - can I come to supper?
    So glad that Miss Lucy is getting better and that the cough gives soon. How we worry when our children are poorly! Even when they are in the 40's I am afraid!

  5. Hi Pip, What a glorious mixed post. Firstly, thanks for the link re Shelterbox. I love the fact that they deliver aid straight to the people, to the very heart of what's needed. Your knitting is going great guns - did you seam the shoulders with mattress stitch, or did you kitchener them, or perhaps another way? I'm off to sign up with Marmalade Rose, that's one little challenge I don't think I'll be procrastinating over!
    Love to you all, have a great weekend.
    Diana x

  6. Oh you are putting me to shame, I started a jumper last autumn to keep me warm in the winter and I am still shivering. Maybe I'll settle down tonight infront of Silent Witness (my guilty pleasure) and take up my needle again!

  7. I agree with Simone we needed your pics having been immersed in greyness sky and ground for several days..
    knitting 2 0 mins day.. well i might do that now but the last 3 yrs must have been 20 mins year..
    ground pecans how delic!
    more power to your keyboard your blog is a good one..

  8. Look at that crocus foliage, you are going to have spring flowers in no time at all!

    That cake and maple syrup-butter looks seriously yummy. It is making me crave desert and I don't have a single thing in the house. :(

  9. Beautiful as always, Pipany. Your mix is a good one.

    That cake solution is perfect. Wish I had been at the table when it was served!

    Knitting is looking very good. I do love that way of joining the shoulders together. There are lots of methods, and what you show in your photo is what my great auntie taught me. It is quite invisible. On some projects, it is good to have a different, more obvious seam. Yours looks perfect!

    We've got a few days of winter warm air here, and you might know how that has improved folks' spirits round here.

    Happy weekend!

  10. I have some Crofter in my stash, in greeny peacock colours which I may just have to get out now! Don't you just 'love' sewing up! x

  11. The sun has left us again today here too Pipany and has been replaced by rain, oh well - there's always lots of sewing to do.

    The cake sounds wonderful - I wonder why is didn't turn out? I sometimes make flourless chocolate brownies which are replaced with ground almonds and they normally keep there shape.

    take care and have a lovely weekend,

    Nina x

  12. OMG at the shoulder seams - they are perfect!!! I must go and work out how to do it myself - my shoulder seams often leave something to be desired!

  13. That looks like a scrumptious pudding even if it wasn't how it was supposed to be... a happy accident! Where did you learn to make those super shoulder seams?

  14. Your shoulder seam looks so neat! I am afraid that mine are not nearly so good. It is all still cold, wet and muddy here, no sunshine - I can't believe that anything will ever grow again!

    Pomona x

  15. A lovely mix.
    We are seeing the grass and the earth at last, the first time for weeks and weeks. It is even better to see your pics.

  16. That cake looks wonderful - can just smell the maple syrup.
    I've fallen in love with that Crofter yarn and will see if one of the two wool shops in town carry it. If not I'll be trawling the internet to find it. Let's see a photo of your project when it's finished.

  17. Taste is all the matters! :o) It's tough when a recipe goes "wrong" though... but as long as there's taste... Isn't it wonderful, even though doing a craft for years and years, you still learn new things?! Your knitting is lovely...those heathery shades in the wool are scrumptious. Ah, thoughts of green things growing... We're so winter and snow-logged here, all we can do is dream! I dream of garden days to come... Always come away from here feeling well feed--thanks, Pipany :o) Happy Week ((HUGS))

  18. Nope! Can't see the join. That's really impressive. Love the colours too!
    I've donated to Shelter Box too, I like the fact that you can actually see what they are doing and what your money is going towards.