Thursday, 12 January 2017

Japanese Knot Bag

After many years enjoying weekly WI craft sessions under Kay's expert tutelage in Kenilworth, it was with trepidation that I ventured out last night, along dark and very narrow country lanes to Wendy's Home.  I only went to my first Wells WI meeting this month, then joined them this week for their New Year's dinner, and have now got one craft session under my belt.  The needlecase, housewife, scissor keeps and the large bag with felted flowers on the side all made at the Kenilworth WI craft group over a number of years was much admired.

Wendy and other members made me feel most welcome, and I joined in the session cutting up my fabric for the Japanese Knot Bag...then just had to come to a halt.  With so very little sleep over the last few days...I am a little brain addled.....

but I watched Wendy as she expertly machined the base of the bag picking up all those tips, which I hope I shall be able to recall when I get the sewing machine out and get the bag ready for the next stage, for the next meeting of the craft group in about a month's time.

Mosaic Carpet Cushion

Its when my friend Penny came to stay and when I showed her where I was with my latest project, that I realised that it was high time I finished this knitting project.  It was back in April that I spent a lovely day with Linda at Marie Wallin's workshop.  Diane another knitting friend was there and had recommended this workshop to me.

After the workshop, I followed Diane's progress with the cushion on Ravelry, and admired the way she had tackled the back of her cushion.  The kit which is now available only covers the front of the cushion.  Linda being the wonderful seamstress that she is, backed the cushion with fabric, whereas Diane had gone for a knitted back.

That was the option I decided on.  I had some superb ceramic buttons which had been languishing for far too long unseen in a dark corner of a drawer, and found that they matched the colour palet of the Rowan Tweed very well.  I ordered  more Rowan Felted Tweed, and thankfully when I needed only about 5 metres in one of the colours to cast off, both Linda and Ronnie who has a little stash of Rowan yarn came to the rescue.

With a nice plump feather cushion from John Lewis bought to fit the knitted front, I knitted stripes and put in just one repeat of the front pattern... turn over, and the front is revealed.  Usually I do block..but with more pressing things to get on with, I just popped in the cushion, and that is how it has stayed.  Its lovely and warm, and for now on our conservatory chair which is masquerading as a dining chair pending the construction of our new conservatory!

Krachel with Pistachios

I'm still catching up with the bakes from Jane Mason's Book of Buns.  This was one of the December challenges and is on page 133 of the book.  I didn't quite keep to the recipe, which for a first effort is unusual for me...but I only had 100g of pistachios and just did not feel up to going out for more, plus I felt that 200g pistachios as listed in the ingredients would have made for an over nutty bake.  To compensate I substituted 25g of the butter for a tablespoonful of Pistachio Oil which I have had unopened in the cupboard for quite some time.

I followed Jane Mason's technique, but the various provings/risings took far longer, and as a lesson learnt, I would start this early in the morning, rather than later in the afternoon.  My list of ingredients were as follows for 16 buns:

50g runny honey
200g whole goat's milk
600g strong flour
10g dried yeast
10g salt
75g goat's butter melted and allowed to cool
1 tablespoon/ 25g Pistachio Oil
2 teaspoons aniseeds
2 eggs
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
100g shelled pistachios, gently pan roasted and chopped

Glaze...made up of an egg beaten with a little water, and a pinch of salt and sugar.

 As the melted butter was quite hard to knead in, next time I make these, I shall try kneading all the ingredients except the butter and nuts for ten minutes, then kneading in the room temperature butter for another few minutes, with the nuts being mixed in after 30 minutes.  If I had an orange to hand I would also add some grated zest and a little juice.

These are truely delicious and giving off a wonderful aroma during baking.  The smell of Aniseed, honey, and nuts is so heady.  They freeze rather well and are delicious warmed up and then served with butter and honey...I had a few thin slices of the Quince Cheese I made a few weeks ago from the last of Penny's beautiful fruit.

On Sunday I had invited a couple of new neighbours Val and Kay, around for morning coffee...the Krachel were on the table, with Preserves, Honey and Coffee..everyone enjoyed them!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Steam Train ride to Minehead

There are some wonderful days out that I can think of for the warmer and longer days...such as visiting National Trust Houses, and visits to beautiful gardens...but we are a few months away from that that type of activity and sometimes it is nice to find something different to do when we are around the short, cold darker days of mid-winter.  Most people know that Mr S loves trains, the real ones or model ones, and down in our new County, there is plenty to keep him happy.  There seems to be model exhibitions on most weekends, with wonderfully executed layouts such as this one, which we went down to view one then went on to spend a couple hours and have lunch in Sherbourne, last Saturday.

I made Mr S happy when I accepted to spend a day with him at the Steam Festival on the West Somerset Railway.  After driving down to Bishops Lydeard across beautiful countryside, we sat in a carriage compartment, and started our journey which took us down to the coast to Watchet,  past Blue Anchor Bay, then with Dunster Castle on its rock to the right, we arrived at the station in Minehead.  We happened to share the carriage with a two nice fellow travelers, one of whom had just recently moved down from Coventry!

At Minehead we chose to explore a little by walking westwards towards the harbour, and beyond, along the West Somerset Coast Path, until it became a muddy tract more suited for serious walkers with walking boots.

There was an interesting statue at the start of The West Somerset Coast Path, which was worth looking at...

The thatched cottages leading to the harbour added to the beauty of this stretch of promenade.  Most of the coaches were packed with mainly 'grown-ups' was rather a nice way of spending a day off between Christmas and the New Year.

This was a nice day out, interesting locomotives to keep hubby happy, a walk by the sea, and beautiful landscapes.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Ebbor Gorge

A very short distance away is open countryside, and as we are on a break from DIY and refurbishment, we thought we would explore the local Nature Reserve.  The weather was magnificent and from the top there were clear views across the Vale of Avalon towards Glastonbury Tor.

I do love a little climb, and thankfully we had taken a pair of sticks with us...I think we may need to buy another set so that we can have two sticks each.  On one stretch, we lent one stick to a more mature much easier than helping with a sprained ankle further down the slope!  One of the billboards rightly describes the walk as a scramble.  We shall be visiting this National Reserve again and again over the different seasons, as it promises many wild flowers, insects and birds!  We even saw a butterfly in flight....and by the way the robins are paired off in the garden too!