Monday, 7 November 2011

A Creative Week part 2


We were at a bonfire/fireworks party on Saturday. This was a fellowship get-together for the church and was held out at Bruce and Lynn Cheyne's home near Alford, Aberdeenshire. A beautiful part of the country. And it was a perfect autumn night for fireworks. Crisp and clear and cold.

I decided I would make these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from the Hummingbird Bakery book "Cake Days". Wasn't sure how they would turn out, never having made whoopie pies of any kind before. And to be honest I am not the world's best baker. I think you could describe my cooking, in general, as inconsistent. But I do love to have a go when I have the time.

My first attempt was a disaster. I made them too big and underestimated how much they would grow. And so they grew and grew and grew until they all joined up into one solid rectangle! I tried to rescue them and they did taste OK but they didn't look very pretty. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture but they did look very funny.

My second attempt worked much better and I have to say (even though I have to say so myself) they did taste delicious. Especially the filling which is a cream cheese mixture with Marshmallow Fluff added. Give me a spoon and I could have tucked into the filling all by itself.

For those of you who love cookery books or love baking, the book that this recipe came from is a beautiful looking book with great pictures. Better than that, any recipes I have used have turned out well, especially the Red Velvet Cupcakes!! This isn't a great picture but if you're like me I like a visual. There are a couple of Hummingbird Bakery books and I love this one. And it's pink! It looks great on my shelf.

And this is how those whoopie pies should have looked!


I also made some Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (a bit of a pumpkin fest). These were truly scrumptious. You can't tell from the pictures but they have a cream cheese filing in the middle so that when you bite into them you get this gooey, delicious surprise. They are a little bit fiddly to make as you have to prepare the filling ahead of time and freeze or chill it, but worth the effort. You fill the muffin cases enough to cover the bottom, then a spoonful of the filling, and then you top them up with the rest of the mixture. The topping is also nice and crunchy.

If you are interested in the recipe for these you will find it at One thing I will say is that I made twice as many muffins as the recipe suggested and still had some mix left over. So you could maybe half the amounts in the recipe unless you like a lot of muffins!

If you have any comments to make on my posts can you please make them here on the blog. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have a go at any of the things I have made.

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Creative Week

For the past few months I haven't felt like doing much of anything. Now that I'm feeling better I have not only renewed my love of knitting but I seem to have found a real creative bug. I was also introduced to Pinterest recently and you could honestly lose HOURS on there. SO many ideas, SO little time! And everything looks so pretty. I want to pin them all. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check it out here  but I will warn you - it is addictive!

Okay - back to my creative bug. I not only have been knitting, I have also been cooking (baking really) and trying out some of the craft ideas I've seen. I thought I might share some of the things I've been doing.

This is the wee green cardigan I began knitting in hospital. It is for my granddaughter Isla who is almost 18 months old. It was really easy to knit (important when you have no powers of concentration) and turned out better than I expected. I'm not sure about the colour though. It looked much prettier on the ball than it does knitted. I also had trouble finding suitable buttons. I don't really like these plastic ones. They're not the easiest to do up and undo. There isn't a great choice out there though.

This little cardigan I found in my knitting box, completely knitted but still to be sewn together. I had started it for Isla's older sister Emily, maybe 2 years back and had never finished it. When I attempted to sew it up (my least favourite part of knitting) I realised why I hadn't completed it. The sleeves didn't fit in properly!. So I had to make some adjustments (rip them down a bit and reknit the top part). Even then, they still don't look quite right. They look very narrow at the top and the length of them doesn't look in proportion to the body. Oh well! It won't fit Emily now so Isla will inherit it. I'll find out once I try it on her.

Okay - please don't laugh at my pathetic attempts at creative photography! Its not easy when all you have is a wee Samsung point and shoot camera :) Just trying to make it interesting!

I decided that I would have to knit something for Emily since Isla was getting two cardigans. Don't want to cause any sibling rivalry. This was knitted with some cheap Aran wool I had in my stash and it turned out better than I expected. It is a pretty colour, especially for a 5 year old who loves all things pink. She has recently started gymnastics and I thought it would be good for slipping on over her leotard. You can't really tell from the photo but it is a little cropped cardigan with short sleeves. Again I had trouble finding the right button for it. I have put on a little white button with a smiley face on it (which again you can't tell from the photo - who is that photographer?) but I think it needs something pink so I will probably change it.

Hopefully you've enjoyed seeing the finished creations. There is something immensely satisfying from making things with your own hands and it seems that so many women out there are discovering that for themselves. I watched "Kirsty's Homemade Britain" on Channel 4 last night and it seems she is tapping into the same movement. I think a lot of it has to do with the recession and the fact that we are having to look at ways to save money. 

There is a mass of stuff out there, on the internet especially, to encourage you, inspire you, supply and sell to you. I recently found which is a great resource for knitters. It has loads of free stuff, especially patterns you can download. I didn't know you could do such a thing! I thought you had to go to your local wool shop or John Lewis and trawl through their pattern books. There are some really up to date patterns out there and some beautiful inspiring yarns and wools.

There are also some great tutorial videos on I recently used them to learn how to knit socks (the pattern didn't explain well how to turn the heel). By the way, knitting socks could be my next obsession. What is funny is that my great granny used to knit socks for everyone and it was a bit of a joke in the family that you would get two entirely different coloured striped socks. I am now turning in to her! My mother thinks me knitting socks is really funny for some reason.

Another project for me in the future is to learn to crochet so I will be using the video tutorials out there. Problem is that I will have to live to a 100 like my great granny did to ever complete all the projects I have in mind.

I was reading the letter to the Colossians last night before going to bed and was excited to read this verse "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery which is Christ."

You have to read the English Standard Version to have it translated using the words "knit together" but I loved this. Other versions translate it as "united" but I love the idea of being "knit together in love" and being a knitter this phrase just brings the meaning of the verse alive to me. 

To me this is the purpose of me writing this blog - that we might be "knit together in love" through a shared interest and passion whether that be in knitting, crafts, reading, cooking or most importantly God.

I am now going to try and add this verse to the header at the top of my page but as I am technologically illiterate I may need help. If there is anyone out there who knows how to do this please tell me!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A Stormy Day In Stonehaven

 Thought you might like to see some photos we took down in Stonehaven this morning. Yesterday was really wild and a lot of the beach had been thrown up onto the boardwalk and into gardens. Today was milder and the sun actually came out for a bit but the waves coming into the bay and the harbour were spectacular. There were people everywhere taking photographs, including one man from the local newspaper. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me and had forgotten my phone so had to make do with Ian's phone. So the pictures aren't great but you get the idea!

This part of the pier had to be closed it was so dangerous.

Can you see the boat that sunk in the harbour? This pic is a bit blurry I'm afraid.

This is the other side of the harbour wall in Stonehaven Bay.

 I am a bit vexed that these photos don't convey how wonderful this looked. (Note to self - keep camera in your bag!)

We stood and watched for a long time and wondered how anyone can see the majesty and power of the sea and not see the Creator.

Monday, 24 October 2011

24th Anniversary

I've been married to my best friend for 24 years today. This is us on Saturday night when we went out for a meal to celebrate his Birthday (22nd) and our anniversary. We went to the Tolbooth restaurant in Stonehaven and had a very nice meal. Ross, my 21 year old son, took the picture. He did a good job but I wish he'd told me my necklace was all skew-wiff (spelling?).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Litte Ray of Hope

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been ill this year with a mystery illness affecting my liver. This went on for 4 months without any change in my blood results, with me glowing in the dark because of jaundice and feeling exhausted and lethargic all the time. The closest the doctors could get to a diagnosis was that I had had a severe reaction to some drugs I was on for arthritis in my hands. As you can imagine this was a very frustrating time for me and my family.
Let me take you back a few months. I attend and sometimes teach a Ladies Class at church and this past year we had been studying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Each lesson dealt with one aspect and around the start of spring we studied "Patience". As an object lesson with this study we each planted a bulb in a pot, not knowing what kind of bulb it was (only the teacher knew), and we took them home to await the plant growing and to find out what kind of flower it would have. I don't know if it was a bad batch of bulbs or if we were a little late in planting them but only one of the seven or eight planted actually flowered. Mine grew a few pathetic little leaves and then sat there for months doing nothing. Several times I went to throw it in the bin but always something stopped me. This carried on all through my illness with only a few more leaves appearing. But no flowers! 
Just 4 weeks ago I again went to throw it out and again something stopped me. At the time I was going through a really difficult spell with 3 hospital admissions because of severe abdominal pain. So instead of things improving they were actually looking worse. My liver just seemed to have stopped functioning  properly and was determined to stay that way. The very next day after almost throwing it out, I checked my plant and there amidst the leaves was a tiny bud. I couldn't believe my eyes! What is really amazing though is that very same week the doctors decided that the only option left to try and get my liver functioning was to start me on steroids. Within days my blood results were improving and I was already looking less yellow. And that tiny bud has blossomed into a beautiful pink anemone.
I'm not sure what to think. Was God teaching me patience these last few months? It is certainly a lesson  I have had to learn. Was the plant my very own object lesson? I'm not sure if God works that way. What I do know is that Jesus used everyday things in nature to teach spiritual lessons. "Look at the sparrows", "Look at the lily". "Four kinds of seeds" And what I have learned in watching that little plant over all those months is that ...
"The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint." Isa 40:28 - 31

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A New Start

This is my first attempt at blogging so be gentle with me. I'm still not really sure what I'm doing or even who I'm doing it for. Or if anyone will be interested in reading it. I just feel the need to express some of the things I feel about life and what is going on in mine. I've been ill recently and off work for a few months so have had some time to think about things and to see what is important to me. The truth be told a lot of it has been spent in a zombie like state unable to concentrate on much beyond what's on TV. So perhaps now that I'm starting to feel better and my brain is beginning to function again, I am inspired to use it creatively. Whatever the reason - here I am.
So why knitting as a theme when there are so many other aspects to my life? Well, I've been a knitter most of my life. I'm 54 now and I was taught to knit by my Auntie Evelyn when I was 5 years old. Since then I have knitted on and off over the years as the urge takes me. Not constantly. But there are times when I just feel the need to pick up my needles and knit. It has been a therapy of sorts and has brought me a lot of pleasure. And provided me with some great pieces of knitwear. I do prefer to knit little things, especially baby things, and often the more complicated the better. There is great satisfaction in seeing something special taking shape on your needles and knowing that you created it.And that it may give someone else pleasure. So, in spite of my interest in many crafts and creating beautiful things, knitting was the first skill I learned and the one I return to the most.
Recently I read a book on my Kindle called "The Knitting Circle" by Ann Hood. Great wee book. It's about a circle of women who have all had great personal tragedies to come to terms with and how they were helped by taking up knitting. I had a recent experience that confirmed this to me. I spent nearly two weeks in hospital and for part of that time I was in a side room on my own. It was good to be away from the busyness of the ward and have a bit of peace and quiet to recover. But it can be also a lonely, frightening experience. Too much time to think about yourself and to worry. After a few days I was moved out into the main ward. The old fashioned kind with ten beds. What we used to call "Florence Nightingale style". That was a bit of a culture shock.The ward was busy and full of women of every age and with every kind of illness. I was a bit overwhelmed and felt a bit shy but I quickly determined that I would try to get to know at least the ones in my immediate vicinity. I did this with mixed success. One lady in particular, on my right hand side was very elderly and slept most of the time, not taking part at all in what was going on in the ward. When I spoke to her I didn't get much response. Then I took out my knitting. I am knitting a little green cardigan for my youngest granddaughter, Isla. Just a simple cardigan because of my lack of ability to concentrate just now, It had an immediate effect. People who had barely acknowledged me before, stopped by my bed to see what I was doing. One particularly unpleasant nurse even asked to have a look!! Isabell, a sprightly 88 year old in the opposite bed, struggled out of bed and crossed the ward on her two sticks to see what I was up to. As she lay in bed that night she called across to me to tell me that when she got home she was going to be looking out her needles. But most amazingly of all, the lady on my right (also called Barbara) had been sat up in her chair by the nurses. She actually instigated a conversation about knitting. Admittedly a short conversation but a conversation none the less.
So why knitting? Because I do believe that knitting does bring people together and creates a bond. In this day and age of austerity it is also a good way to save money. An easy way to create something beautiful. And it is excellent therapy for the troubled soul. So whilst this blog won't all be about knitting it will be a central theme, something to hang all the other things going on in my life on. And hopefully you will get something out of it too. Maybe you are also a knitter. Maybe you would like to be able to knit. I would love to hear your comments.