Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Bits & Pieces Kind Of Week

Yet again this past week I've been struggling with a cold/catarrh so it is an effort to do anything and I feel tired all the time. However, although I feel in the doll-drums, on reflection, I've got quite a lot done this week. I mentioned in my last post that John made some candles in memory of my Dad and here they are. We continued to burn them last Saturday. They are blue and white although the white looks rather golden here for some reason. You'll also have to take it from me that they have a wonderful vanilla smell. On second thoughts ....... I'll take it from John that they smell heavenly, since I can't really smell anything at all at the moment!!

What on earth is this? It was bread soaking in water! I was expecting my god-daughter, Hannah, to come over last Saturday. I love her coming over and I always like to do something special with her. Since I've been trying to loose weight, we seem to have a lot of unused bread around. To be honest, the birds are beginning to get fed up with bread, so I thought Hannah and I could make some bread pudding. Yes ...... I know ...... if I'm on a diet, do I really need bread pudding around? Probably not! However, it could always go in the freezer if it looks too tempting! So, since the bread was a bit hard, I started it soaking quite early.

In the end, Hannah didn't come round but I obviously had to go ahead and make the bread pudding. I have always used a simple recipe from my Mum. I have no idea where she got it from, but it is as follows:

Bread Pudding:

4oz butter or margarine
4oz dark brown sugar
1lb bread that has been soaking in water
1lb mixed dried fruit
1tblsp mixed spice

However, because I thought it's a given that I'm going to try a piece (!) ...... I wondered if I could make it with slightly fewer calories and so I tried a little experiment.
I only used 3oz margarine and 2oz sugar and then worked out how many teaspoons in 2oz sugar and dissolved the appropriate number of sweeteners in a little bit of hot water to take the place of 2oz sugar.
I also decided to add 2 stem gingers and cut them up really small to add to the fruit. John likes ginger :)

  1. So ..... how to make it! Set the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Cream together the margarine and 2oz sugar until fluffy.
  3. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can from the soaking bread and add the bread to the margarine and sugar mix. Squeezing out the water can be a bit messy! Don't worry if you think there's too much water; it just might increase the time required to cook.
  4. Add the dissolved sweeteners, dried fruit, mixed spice and chopped up ginger and mix everything thoroughly.
  5. Put mix in a lightly greased baking tray and cook in the oven for about 1.5 hours. Please note that the surface fruit can get easily burnt, so it is a good idea to cover the tray with foil.
And voila! Bread Pudding! Let it cool a bit before cutting out pieces to serve. If I wasn't on a diet, I would also lightly dust with caster sugar, but to be honest it doesn't really need it ...... and that extra sugar really isn't good for you :)

Yummy! It's probably best when it's warm but it keeps for about a week and pieces can be easily warmed up in the microwave. It rarely actually lasts a week :)

Did the alterations to the ingredients work? Well ..... both John and I (don't mention the diet ......... my bit was small) tried a piece and it was great! The change had no effect :)

Here's something else I managed to finish this week; a knitted scarf/shawl.

Excuse the awful photo of me ..... not feeling well and no makeup is not flattering!

Anyhow ...... the knitting ....... I'm not really a knitter to be honest! A friend's Mum did teach me basic knitting when I was about 7 years old but I've never got on with it and knitting patterns always look like advanced Russian to me! However, back in April last year, I won a lovely give-away on Joy's blog and it included some lovely but unusual yarn that I just didn't immediately know what to do with. You can see what it's like in the photo below:

It's more like string with fluffy bits every now and again! I did wonder if I could crochet with it (crochet I can do even if knitting escapes me), but it didn't look like it would be good for crochet. Then, back in November, I wondered if I could just try using 'knit' stitch to make a scarf using the biggest knitting needles I had. I am lucky in that an Aunt gave me loads of knitting needles when I was little and I've never thrown them out!!

So ...... I just cast on 60 stitches and started knitting! I found that this yarn is quite rough on the index finger of the right hand, so I had to wear a protector finger bandage to stop getting a blister! I have got into the habit of knitting whilst watching things on the TV! It's been quite a relaxing thing to do ........ unless Flossie has been anywhere near as she takes great delight in chasing the moving yarn or the knitting needles! Since I got 5 balls of wool, I decided to use 2.5 and see how long it was and this is the result! It makes a pretty good loose weave shawl or scarf. I'm going to use the other 2.5 balls to make another one :)

So thank you again Joy for the yarn. It's been fun to use :)

This week I've also managed to finish de-cluttering our smallest bed-room with a view to making it into a little office for myself. I don't have any 'before' photos! You'll just have to take it from me that it was a mess! It was a dumping ground for all sorts of stuff, including a lot (and I mean A LOT) of needlework materials I inherited when John's Mum passed away 2 years ago. I have actually been sorting things out since the beginning of January ..... and can't believe how long it's been taking!

Here it is, almost done! All of the needlework and crafting stuff has been carefully sorted and boxed in plastic storage boxes and put in the wardrobe in this room (you can't see it here) and the desk is all ready for use! But ...... those curtains! They were a make-shift that John's Mum gave us when we moved in ........ Too long for the window and a rather tacky crimplene-type material! Not nice but they have done for now!

However ..........

in our local Charity shop, I found some rather nice curtains that had clearly never been used! They only cost £7.50! They are not lined, as you can see, but perfectly adequate for what we need and actually look quite good in the room. In practice, they don't look quite as thin as this photo seems to suggest!  I actually bought them because the material caught my eye ...... but now I could see that keeping them as curtains was probably the best idea. Here I was hanging them just to work out how much material to cut off :)

I've never actually altered curtains before! I measured, measured and measured again and carefully noted how the original hem was done so I could copy it exactly! However, I found that my machine had a bit of trouble sewing through certain areas where there were several layers of fabric. Possibly it needs a new needle? The stitches kept jumping and creating a thread tangle underneath. In the end, I used the machine for the bits it could cope with and hand sewed through the thick bits ...... and it was thick!

All done and looking much nicer! One final thing I did this week to complete this room was to file away a lot of paperwork that had been accumulating over ...... well ...... I dread to think about it! But it was a few years! I then had LOADS of stuff for John to shred!

Here's Minstrel beside the bag of shredded paperwork to give it some scale! It will get gradually added to our compost bin!

Phew! A busy week!

And I must share this one final photo! Minstrel as a techno-cat :)

He does like to help :)


joy said...

Very well done for your first knitting adventure, I also made a scarf from some of that yarn, and it is now in USA with Rog's niece, who took a real shine to it.
I find with curtains that for some reason (its not logical!) I always prefer to hand-stitch the final length.
Your new "office" looks great, really hope you are soon feeling betteer, I have heard of so many people with this cough/cold thing that just goes on and on, but as we mentioned in an earlieer communication, spring is just around the corner. Oh and BTW, love John's candles. x x

joy said...

sorry about the typos, forgot to proof read before pressing the button!

Renee said...

The bread pudding looks great.

Great job with the knitting.

Something about this time of year making us want to sort and redo things. I've been tossing things out of my desk, rearranging, etc.

Rachael said...

Fab looking work room. Bargain curtains which look really nice. If I get organised I may make some of your bread pudding because it looks yummy.

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