Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Monday, 28 February 2011

Saint David's Day - Welsh Cakes (Teatime Treat)

Happy Saint David's Day.
March 1st 2011 
Another chance to show you my Daffodil Yarn!

The first flowers in my garden this year

Welsh Cakes



  1. Rub the fat into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, dried fruit and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
  2. Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/¼in thick and cut into rounds with a 7.5-10cm/3-4in fluted cutter.
  3. You now need a bakestone or a heavy iron griddle.  (I used a good frying pan) Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away. Put it on to a direct heat and wait until it heats up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need about 2-3 minutes each side. Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning although some people I know like them almost burnt.
  4. Remove from the pan and dust with caster sugar while still warm. Some people leave out the dried fruit, and split them when cool and sandwich them together with jam.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Granny 911 - Urgent Square Repair!

I have previoiusly introduced you to my 'Ugly Grannies'.  I also explained one had a terrible 'mishap'.  It was being used in the back garden by my youngest for something like this at the end of the summer....

The heavens opened and it got unceremoniously shoved in the shed and forgotten about.  It's winter warmth has been much appreciated by a family of mice in the shed.  It has been thoroughly washed and disinfected three times and has spent about five weeks in the deep freeze.  I am not sure how to go about repairing the damage, but where there is a will there is a way.  I have considered turning it into a pair of these:

I think these are really funky!

Or maybe one of these:
Slinky little numbers!

 Or maybe this,

I could do a version of this?

I have a more than ample figure, so if I went for any of the above I am afraid I would look like the back end of this...

So for now I just need to work on repairing it as it is, to restore it to it's former glory.  It was a joint project between me and my Grandmother about 25years ago, I really don't think I can throw it away.  I will photograph and show you the damage this week, then I will keep you posted as to the repair...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Global Networking

The countries making up 'Inthesky's' Blog Audience

I am amazed that the audience for this blog is made up of 30 Countries in such a short space of time.

I have just discovered a gadget that will track this information for me.  I have added it to the bottom of my sidebar.  It is called a flag counter.  I wish I had known about it a few weeks ago!

Lemonade Scones (Teatime Treat)

I was intrigued when I saw this recipe.  Scones, made with Lemonade and no rubbing in butter to flour!
How easy can this be?  Another great recipe for children of all ages.  You can't beat scones with a cup of tea...well you can actually.  Scones, cream and jam with a cup of tea. 

This very quick and easy recipe produces lovely light scones. They are best served hot from the oven.

Makes about 12-14 scones.

325g self-raising flour
170ml cold lemonade (use the carbonated type)
170ml Double cream (It needs to be a heavy cream as no other fat is going into these scones.)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees Celsius (205 degrees Celsius fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift flour into a large bowl. Combine lemonade and cream in a medium bowl. Add lemonade and cream mixture to flour and gently fold ingredients together until just combined (don't over mix the dough as this will make tough scones). The dough should be fairly soft and sticky.

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, form into a round and press out to about 3.5cm thickness. Cut scones using a floured 5cm diameter cutter.   Use a quick, firm motion to cut the scones to gives them a better shape and it makes them less likely to stick to the cutter. Form the offcuts into another round and cut some more scones.

Place scones close together on the tray, so they are just touching. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until pale golden and cooked through.

If you like your scones to have a soft crust, cover them with a clean tea towel for one minute after removing from the oven. Serve hot with jam and whipped cream.

I am somewhat of a connoisseur of the regional Delicacy 'A Cream Tea' and I have the waistline to prove it!  This is a little tea ritual in itself, tea, definitley served from a pot, into a cup and saucer with milk and sugar to add if required, scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream, not whipped cream, not double cream, not squirty cream but Clotted cream for an authentic 'West Country' Cream Tea.
The English 'Riviera' Holds an Annual Cream Tea Festival in April

A Traditional English Cream Tea
(Best consumed outdoors on a sunny day)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Tunisian Crochet

I have had a crochet hook in my collection for more than 20 years, it was my Grandmothers.  It is longer than all the others and has a bobble on the end.  I have never known what it was for.  I remember when she was teaching me chain stitch as a child asking about it and her telling me 'That is for something called Tunisian crochet.  You won't need that yet.'  I think I must have been a terrible child to teach anything because I have a very short concentration span and as far as 'projects' go I am like a butterfly, flitting from one to the other.  I go off at a tangent very easily.  It was only last year I discovered Tunisian Crochet.  I wanted to put the lonely old hook to use.  It looks a bit like these:
I got on Youtube and searched for 'Tunisian Crochet' Tutorials and sat for a while practicing only one type of stitch, 'Tunisian Simple Stitch'.  Sounds like my kind of stitch! 

I was amazed by the result, a nice compact and neat stich that is fast and simple.  It looks woven to me.  I also think it makes a very dense functional fabric.  I got busy making Hot Water Bottle covers.  I tried one horizontally and one vertically.

I found these quite quick to make and not particularly challenging.  These were in self patterning yarn and then I tried another to practice colour changing the rows:

Yep, there were a few recipients this Christmas of Tunisian Hot Water bottle covers!  (Wether they wanted them or not!)
You can buy Tunisian Crochet hooks with flexi cord attached to enable you to work bigger pieces.

As I found the Hot water bottle covers so easy and therapeutic to make I chose to work on a scarf, on my flexi hook, with Recycled Sari Silk Waste.

I love this yarn however I am labouring over each row, it is not fast work due the the inconsistancies in the yarn and the lack of elasticity.  It also seem to be consuming loads of yarn, my scarf is realistically going to be a 'short scarf'.  I am delighted with the resulting fabric though I think it looks fantastic and I would like a jacket and trouser suit made from it!  I think it would also make beautiful cushion covers or Upolstrey covering (nothing too big and adventurous).

It is possible to work any cross stitch chart with Tunisian simple stitch, this really intrigues me although I havn't tried it...yet!  Check this out for FANTASTIC!

All made in Tunisian Simple Stitch.  Awesome, I will put that in my project queue!
Use the link to browse other fantastic picture Afghans.  You will be impressed!

I have looked at other Tunisian stitches, there are many effects you can get from different stitches, however I get a bit confused so for now I am sticking to simple stitch.  There is enough there to keep me busy for another decade or two...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Mimi's Mommy, Medha's Delicious Indian 'Potato Recipes' (Vegetarian)

I enjoyed reading Medha's Blog about daily life and her young son in Bangalore.  I find it fascinating that we can share each other's cultures without leaving our own homes, we also have things in common with women around the globe, Motherhood, Cooking, Crochet and Ravelry, to name a few!  Medha posts some delicious recipes, I must try her Cashew Nut sweets, but will wait for Diwali.  I love cooking and eating authentic Indian food.  I requested some potato recipes and these are the ones Medha posted.
        The recipes are as Medha wrote them, I will note any alterations I made with a photograph of my finished dish.  Medha has posted additional photographs that help explain what it is you need to be doing. (well worth popping to her website)
RECIPE 1: Aloo Paratha (Aloo = potato, Paratha = regular chapati made with a stuffing)
 Here’s what you need:
For the filling:
 *4 medium sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
 *1-2 green chillied, finely chopped. Alternatively you could use red chilli powder (vary the quantity as per your taste)
 *Salt to taste
* A sprig of finely chopped coriander
For the chapati dough:
 *250 gms of wheat flour
 * Pinch of salt
 * 1 tablespoon of refined oil (vegetable, sunflower oil)
 * Water
To make dough, mix all ingredients well in a bowl. Slowly add water and knead the dough. Make lemon sized(or slightly larger) balls and keep aside. Mix the ingredients for the filling together. Make sure there are no lumps from the potatoes. You could squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice to this filling. A fourth of a lime will be enough.
Roll out the dough into to make a chapati. Make sure the chapati is thin. Now add a spoon full of the filling and spread it out evenly with a spoon making sure you don’t tear the chapati. Add this filling onto one half of the chapati. Fold the other half and press the edges. Slowly lift this and place it on a tawa/griddle. Sprinkle a few drops of oil and roast the paratha well on both sides.

My Chapati skills need improving, the filling was delicious, I did not have coriander and used finely chopped Spring Onion and red chilli instead.  Delicious with Lime Pickle.

RECIPE 2: Potato and Raw banana cutlets
Here’s what you need:
* 1 raw banana (cook/steam the banana, remove the peel and mash it)
* 2-3 boiled, peeled and mashed medium sized potatoes
* 2-3 green chillies / red chilli powder (depending on your taste)
* Salt to taste
* 1 finely chopped onion (0ptional)
* A sprig of finely chopped coriander
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Make sure there aren’t too many lumps from the potato or banana. Make a ball and press it into a cutlet shape between your palms. Coat with bread crumbs on either side (you can work without the bread crumbs too). Shallow fry on a griddle.
Very, very tasty…
You could completely do away with the banana and make just pototo cutlets. Or you could add boiled and mashed carrots, beans, peas and make veggie cutlets. Use your imagination to vary the veggies..

I was a little sceptical about banana and potato as a combination, but I trusted Medha and made these to the recipe, of the three dishes, that were all delicous, these were my favourites.

RECIPE 3: Aloo Mattar (Potato and Green peas curry)
Here’s what you need:
*4 medium sized potatoes, cut into cubes of about a 1 inch
* 1 cup of green peas
* 2 finely chopped onions
* 2 ripe chopped tomatoes
* 1 tea spoon of ginger and garlic paste
* 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
* 2 teaspoons of garam masala powder
* 2 tablespoons of oil
* Salt to taste
* Pinch of sugar
In a deep pan heat oil. To this add the ginger garlic paste and onions. Once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes. Stir and cook well till the tomotoes are completely soft. Add the garam masala, chilli powder and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the peas and potatoes. Add about 2 cups of water and close the pan. Cook on medium heat till the potatoes turn soft. The peas will cook very quickly, so no need to worry about them. Keep checking once in a while to make sure the water has not evaporated. Add salt and sugar (I always add a pinch of sugar to all my dishes as I feel it balances out the spice). It’s your choice if you wish to leave out the sugar.
***Alternately you could boil the potatoes before hand and cut them to cubes. Then add them at the last stage when you feel the peas are cooked. After adding potatoes just cook the curry for a couple of minutes. ***
The consistency of the curry is how you would like it. Add more water if you want it be watery or if you wish to savour it with rice.
Serve hot with chapati or white rice.
Note: If you don’t have garam masala powder, just add the salt, chilli powder and pinch of sugar. It will taste equally good.

I followed the recipe for this curry but I included a cupful of chopped spinach.  This made a great meal with the accompaniments.  Delicious with Mango Chutney.

I am not vegetarian however I do support the idea of eating less meat as a family we have discussed vegetarianism as a family but as yet no one has made the commitment (I have been vegetarian for a number of years in the past).  We all care about animal welfare greatly and the environment so eating less meat is a positive choice.  It is also a healthy dietry option and eating a meal like the 'above' recipes is very economical.  My youngest help me with the chapatis and liked his hot with butter.  He also tucked in to all three dishes quite happily, even with my addition of red chilli.  I hope you try them and enjoy them.  Do pop over and say hello to Medha she will be pleased to see you.   :)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Alpaca Adventure

How cute am I?
I am one of the worlds best/worst impulse buyers!  'Buy now, think later!' should be my motto.  I saw this and could not resist.  It looked so glossy and silky and soft and squishy and it spoke to me...'please give me a good home...'  Well I heard it anyway.  I have read about Alpaca fibre, I have fantasized about Alpaca farms...but as yet until this arrived a couple of days ago, this is the closest I have got.  (Just in case you are wondering I bought the fleece in the pictures below, but wish I had bought the cutie in the picture above.)  I now realise Alpaca fleece is very different to wool.  I have not tried spinning with it yet.  I have about 750g.  I have decided to wash it after I have spun it. I am worried that I may felt it before it even gets to the spinning wheel if I wash it first.  It does not smell, which to me raw wool can be quite whiffy.  It does not feel dirty, which to me, quite often wool can.  I have read Alpacas tend to get dusty rather than dirty as they have a penchant for dust baths, so you can spin first and then wash.

I read an article on the net last night that discussed the pros and cons of Drum carding or Hand Carding Alpaca fibre and made my mind up to try drum carding.  I spent almost two hours with my trusted and able 6year old assisstant and we manged to get about 80g beautifully carded into soft, fine, silky rolags.  I am new to drum carding and had a grand notion I would get the fleece prepared and ready in an afternoon, (the best laid plans of Mice and Men and all that).  I really did not expect it to take quite so long.  I am very tempted to spin with some this afternoon, but feel I should card more first.  I am going to try and spin 100% Alpaca but I am ready to blend with wool if I find it too tricky.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wobbly tooth - Extreme Extraction!!!

My youngest is about to loose his first wobbly tooth any day now.  He is a bit squeamish and very nervous about it.  So I thought I would desensitize him with some Youtube videos.  I think I may have made matters worse!  This video is definitely worth a watch!
I can't believe they found the tooth!  Do you think they ever found the rocket?

Monday, 21 February 2011

Another Teatime Treat - Home made Bread and Bread Pudding

I have been making all of my own bread for over a year now.  It was the mouse found in a loaf of Hovis that did it for me!  I did consider posting the pictures, but you can search them for yourself.  It is also much more cost effective in the long run to bake your own bread.  I did invest in a trusty Bread Maker, which always feels like cheating, but it is very convenient and I love mine.

You can not beat the smell of bread baking.

The problem is gauging how much bread you will use. Without all of the preservatives the bread can go stale if it is not used within three to four days.  If I run out everyone in the house complains to the management!  The birds in the back garden are so used to eating the crusts my youngest leaves that they sit on the fence waiting.  If I don't feed them they wait and wait and eye me up in disgust, Hitchcocks 'Birds' have nothing on mine.  There is only so much stale bread you can feed the birds as again it is not cost effective.  I try to use the stale bread for breadcrumbs for making stuffings, or coating food.  I also use breadcrumbs to make Meatloaf.   You can make Bread and Butter pudding, or the old favourite 'Bread Pudding'.  This stuff sticks to your ribs and you could go and plough a field after you have had a piece.  It is very easy to make and keeps well. 

1/2 a loaf of stale bread, soaked in water (just enough to cover it)
250g of mixed dried fruit
100g shredded vegetable suet
100g sugar
2tsp of Mixed Ground Spice
3 eggs

When the bread is well soaked fork it over until it is the consistency of porridge.  Add all of the other ingredients and mix well.  Turn into a baking tin and cook in a medium oven for 40 mins to an hour, until it is nicely browned and starts to smell done.  (Sorry for the lack of precision).   It will feel soft to the touch but will firm up as it cools.  Leave the pudding to go cool, or you will not slice it very successfully.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Kumihimo-Japanese Braiding - Another Great Craft Activity For Adults And Children

Kumihimo is a Japanese word for this craft (kumi = to braid, himo = cord). I first saw this technique for braiding at my first visit to my local Birmingham and District Guild of Spinning, Weaving and Dyeing.  Most Guilds offer a varied programme over the year and many skills and crafts involving yarn are shared and taught, both formally and informally.  This is something you can pick up in an instant, it is very quick and easy to learn, a great portable activity for adults and children alike.  This activity is ideal for a craft lesson, 'camp craft', or therapeutic craft activity.  It is very creative, below is a video link for the simplest syle of Kumihimo braiding, on a small homemade 'loom'.  You can buy or make more complexed looms for a greater number of strands of yarn or thread, many bought kits include instructions.  Many different effects can be achieved by varying your yarns and techniques. 

The braids can have many uses, embellishing other crafts, key chains, bracelets, spectacle straps, laces and hair accessories. 
There are numerous possibilites. 
The resulting braids are very strong. 

I use soft, flexible, circular plastic lids to make my own 'looms', rather than buy one.  I like the idea of recycling something and putting it to creative use and I like the idea of saving my money for other craft pursuits.  You can use strong cardboard but this 'soft' plastic is ideal and more durable.  You can use the 'loom' again and again.  I find they are easy to make with very sharp scissors, I simply snip little V shapes, these seem to hold the threads neatly.  Also the slight lip on the lid helps to grip the loom and the threads. 
Sometimes you do not have a suitable lid available and it is a shame because you have to go and buy a tube of sweets and eat them up quick, just because you need the lid!
All of the above braids were made on an eight space 'loom'.  If you search the web you can see many different 'looms' and styles.  It is possible to get a variety of effects by following different patterns and sequences of braiding, with varied threads and yarns.  This afternoon I made my first sixteen space 'loom' to experiment with.  I will let you know how I get on...

Amazing 'Global' Blog Audience

This has taken me some time to figure out how to post this document.  This format is the only way I could figure out how to do it.  It shows the flags of the countries from where individual members of 'Inthesky' blog's Audience come from.  Just click on the link and take a look 28 countries to date...
(Update 7, 26/2/11)
Visitors from 29 countries have read my blog so far, click here to see the National Flags

It amazes me in such a short time people from many different countries have read 'Inthesky'!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Quick and Healthy Strawberry and Banana Smoothies

My sons have both got coughs and colds, so they are not eating much and are in need of a vitamin boost.  We were given 350g of strawberries yesterday.  In the summer I often make smoothies as a way of 'sneaking' extra vitamins into the children.  Smoothies make a healthy, quick and filling snack/drink.  They are ideal for a healthy breakfast or a 'snack' at any time of the day.

350g of strawberries
2 bananas
50g of rolled oats
2 tablespoons of clear honey
1 large tub of Natural yogurt

Put all the ingredients together in a large jug and whizz until smooth with a hand blender like this:
These did not last very long!

Friday, 18 February 2011

'40th Birthday' Celebration - Grand Birthday Blog 'Prize Giveaway' Win yourself the opportunity to have a drink on me!

To help me celebrate my imminent 40th Birthday, I would like to offer my 'Blog Followers' the opportunity to win one of 4 prizes. 1 for each decade of my wonderful existence.  The prizes are very typically me and are the sort of prize I would be happy to receive and rapidly consume.  A 'Lucy Style' Teatime!

Each prize will consist of:

 A 'Time for Tea' China Mug
 '40 Fine English Breakfast Teabags (A cup of tea for every year of my life!)'
 A packet of traditional biscuits (One of my favourites)
 A Tea towel, with which you can keep your highly valued, commemorative, keepsake in prisitne condition.

I will select four winners at random, by allocating each of my Blog Followers a number and employing an able assistant to 'do the deed' on Saturday 5th March.  (To be in the competition you will need be registered as a 'Follower' by Midnight on March 4th).  I will announce the winners on my Blog and as soon as I have the winners addresses I will dispatch the much coveted goodies ASAP.
Good Luck

Thursday, 17 February 2011

I would like you all to join me and share some Celebration Cake...

I will celebrate with a nice cuppa :)

I broke through the 1000 mark at about 8am 18.2.11.  I am pretty sure it was my Blog friend Medha from India as she was leaving a comment at the time.  (Medha I am still waiting for you to blog your potato recipes!  I am getting hungry.  That is why I have gone biscuit crazy!)  I am a bit blog addicted at the moment, I love tracking pageviews and it amazes me that literally I get visitors from all over the world.  Each day that a new country is on the list is another step toward Intheskys Global domination.  I should work out a way of presenting this data, so far I save a picture of  the national falg of each country, but I cannot work out how to make multiple picture, pictures, and scrolling through a list of flags, may be more interesting to some than others!  lol.  So far I have had visitors from twenty different countries.
Thanks for reading :)