Some people…

M and I are nice and generous people, sometimes to a fault. At Christmas and Easter, we go grocery shopping and spend hundreds of pounds and give it all to the homeless charities to help those less fortunate, and give to the Dogs Trust, Shelter, Centre Point and many more.

Today was no different. There is a girl from the middle east who sells the Big Issue outside our little Co-op in the village. We have always bought an issue from her, chatted and never paid the cover price of £2.50, but given her £5 each time as this helps them get out of poverty etc. At Christmas, we did the same and gave her a Christmas card with £10 in it. Today she asked if we had a good Christmas and New Year and we chatted until she pointed at M, and said “Your Brother?”. I said, “No, my husband” at which point she stopped chatting, turned slightly and lifted her scarf up over her lower part of her face. M after a second or two said “well then” and we went into the shop.

We laughed at her reaction, but being a Muslim, we were not surprised by her closing down. We have come across lots of intolerant people in the past, some of which I have ended up fist fighting with, but, have learned to roll our eyes and ignore the uneducated and intolerant. After getting some groceries we left the Co-op and as we pass, she smiled and told us to have a good day. A complete contrast to her first reaction.

We can only surmise that she realised that we are generous people and she has made quite a bit of money from us. A lot of people who shop there tend to ignore her and as such, she can be there all day trying to flog her allotted number of magazines.

I hope that she is back to being chatty and that she can see past the gay thing, or she will miss out.

First KAL…

My Instagram account is ram-packed with dogs and knitting, and yesterday in the feed there was a post by Fiber Hustle advertising their latest podcast/videocast. Now YouTube is not a place I frequent that much and as for video podcasts, they are a hidden world really. However, for some reason, I felt I needed to watch. Luckily enough we can “throw” videos from youtube to any or our TV’s, which is a little more viewer-friendly than using a phone or tablet. This was the first time I have watched their “show”, and although it is not slick or like some of the ones I have seen in the past I felt I needed to watch it all the way, 1 hour 3 minute. The hosts Aaron & Chip are quite entertaining and you can see they have a passion for their crafts. Aaron announced that he would be doing a KAL, and I thought to myself ‘I’m joining in’.

The pattern is Paris Toujours by Isabell Kraemer which is a really nice Shawl/wrap. I had looked for yarn and found some beautiful ones in merino, but at £15 a skein and it requires 3, I thought better of it and decided to go for a more economical yarn. I doubt it will be an item that I wear, so the cheaper yarn is more favourable. If after I have made it I think I would wear it as a scarf then I will order the expensive yarn and make another one. The project doesn’t start until 18th January, and it finishes on 15th February, M’s Birthday. We are away in Prague from 9th to early hours 12th Feb, and I thought it would be fun to have it finished for the trip and take it with us and do a photoshoot with it which could be fun.

I have bought two different yarns, the first one is Hayfield “Spirit” at £5 a ball, which is a new one for me. I have used Hayfield in the past and it is a nice yarn to work with. This one is 80% Acrylic with 20% wool. Very soft and 345m per 100g ball. The second yarn is 100% Acrylic and is the Woman’s Institute Premium yarn at £1.15 a ball with 250m per 100g ball.

Hayfield Spirit Double Knit Yarn (80% Acrylic 20% Wool)
Woman’s Institue Premium Acrylic Yarn Double Knit
© mariakos – This is a photo of the finished item C/O Ravelry

As can be seen in the last photo (credit Mariakos on Ravelry). It is quite a masculine piece and I am looking forward to wearing mine in Prague.

Challenges…

A new year means the usual crap resolutions, and I totally agree with Bianca Del Rio.

I am not good with resolutions, never have been as I tend to break them quite fast, however, I find that if I challenge myself then there is a goal to work to, like my Goodreads challenge of x amount of books read in a year.

So, my challenges are as follows, and yes a little general, but hell, it’s not like it really matters.

  • Read 30 books
  • Reduce refined sugar consumption
  • Walk a few kilometres each day with the dog and work up to something like climbing Mount Snowdon
  • Knit more, and finish all the projects that I have put on hold.
  • Do a few KAL’s (for those who don’t know KAL=Knit along)
  • Blog at least once a week, otherwise why am I paying for this site?
  • Lose two and a half stone (35lb)
  • Not eat fast food for 2020 (that may be hard)
  • Get back into writing to my penpals
  • Take M out more on days out
  • Get back into meditating

Things I need to do are more personal, being more patient with M, doing more about the house to save him from doing it, and make a bit more healthier meals. Not that my food is unhealthy, however, we do like bad food as it tastes so good.

I am sure that there are more thing that I should have on my list, but I will wing it for now and add things on as I go along. Again, these are challenges that I am more likely to do rather than an irrational list of impossible changes.

2019 End

A new year and decade. The 10’s have been up and down, and especially this year more downs than ups. But, we managed to survive, and hope and trust that 2020 will be a better year for us, and things will get back on track again.

Every year we make a joke about making punch for the first footers arriving for a new year party at our house. A party that only ever has us and the dogs in attendance. We are not party people, well, not these days that is. The first footers joke comes from “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” which was a sitcom on BBC. I found the episode and thought you may want to see it.

So, with no further ado, I hope you all, wherever you all are have a fun and safe New Year, and that 2020 is a great year for you!

Christmas 2019

Christmas day was a nice quiet and astonishingly warm day, as can be seen with me in a tee shirt. We took the dogs out for a walk around the village Christmas morning, and as I was dressed as Santa being carried by an elf with the dogs wearing Christmas hats I had a lot of cars going passed beeping their horns and people waving, and lots of smiles on peoples faces.

It was quite a nice easy day, but I confess we ate far too much, but I guess most people do. The girls as always enjoyed the day, and once they opened one of their presents Mazikeen decided it was open season and kept helping herself to presents, she even passed ones over to Harper to open, who was very willing.

Each year I say that I will get a smaller turkey as it is only M, me and the girls, so we really do not need something that will feed 20 people, but when it comes to it, I just cannot help it and a big one is always bought.

We did our annual charity run, so went to the supermarket and bought a trolly full of food, personals and sweets (for the kids) and took them to the homeless shelter The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool. I know that lots of people don’t realise that there are families that are homeless and that includes kids, so we bought 30 big tubes of sweets for them in the hope that they have something to enjoy. M sponsored a few Christmas boxes for Shelter which includes a bed for the night, Christmas dinner, warm clothes, personals (toiletries) and more. He also sponsored a dog for me, funny enough also called Harper. He lives at the Dogs Trust shelter in Liverpool, so we are going to visit him in the new year which will be nice.

All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. I hope you all had a nice day too.

50th Birthday

So this month I celebrated my 50th BIrthday. It is quite something when you start thinking about 50 years of my life has passed already. The thing is, I don’t even feel like that much time has passed. When I think about the time, it seems quite literally a lifetime, but I remember being 21 at the Scotch Piper pub like it was yesterday. Time is a funny thing.

M treated me to 50 presents to open which was quite a feat! I would not know what to buy me, never mind 50 of them. Lots of mad and silly presents as well as lots of Alien tee shirts, and mother Alien that screams like it does in the film, and lots of books. You can never go wrong with books in my mind. It is now 11 days after my birthday and I still have not finished the cake. The 0 still has to be consumed, and I am determined to finish it.

All in all, I had a lovely day with Mark and the dogs.

Try not to burn the house down…
50 presents!
Without candles!

Winter Blues

I love snow, don’t mind the cold, but boy, it depresses me quite a bit. I’m trying to be positive, but it’s heard as fuck! Yes, I swore, get over it.  There seems to be so little sunlight in this part of the world at this time of year, and I love my sun, and I know this is a main part of it, but there is so much pressure too to add to it all.  I do wish I was a proper bear that could go and hibernate over this time of year.

My birthday is coming up and that has been a bone of contention all my life as near all forget it because it’s Christmas.  No one wants to go and party because it’s Christmas and they are busy.  So I’m used to that but it is a blight. As such I no longer advertise it, or bother about it. My hubby does bother and is usually the only one. 

I’m moaning as I’m suffering with the winter blues, so please ignore me, I’ll be right as rain soon enough..

Family & Surgery Update…

So 9 days ago I went for my surgery to remove my skin cancer. My youngest sister messaged me with lots of irritating questions, “what time are you leaving for the hospital, what ward will you be on, will you go straight down to theatre when you get there, what is the latest time they take people to surgery, what time is your operation, how long will you be there, will you have many stitches, what’s happening after the operation, is it a day case, will you have to go back, whats the surgeons name” and many many more! She is one of those people who continually ask questions in rapid fire and never really take a breath, and asks many daft questions. I am not the type of person who likes being questioned and find it irritating, and usually close-down or give generalised answers when this happens as I prefer to tell when I am ready and not be under a spotlight.

After the surgery I drove home and replied to a few more texts from my youngest sister and one from my mother, mainly ones of “are you home yet”. Today I finally got a call from my mother asking how I was, but I could tell from her tone she was not really calling to know how I was, then it came. “The reason for my call, can you ask your mate how much a new computer……” When my phone rang, I said to M “oh! here we go! I wonder what she wants this time?” knowing it would be a “can you” type call and not a genuine call of concern.

One of my sisters has not bothered calling to find out, and my little brother has become an ass and does not think he has to ask about anyone, including his father when he was in hospital.

M and I are always suspicious now when we get calls from our family as it is either a call for help or in the case of M’s mum, a mistaken call as she is trying to call someone else. It would be nice to have parents like we see on the Hallmark channel, or to have family like my cousins, but coming from a broken home I realised that would never happen.

So, my surgery went well, and I got away with only 4 stitches. The surgeon said it was deep and he removed skin and what lies beneath in the shape of an ellipse. He said he thought it went well and for me to go back to see him at the end of the month. I removed (yes I did) my stitches on Thursday and boy was I glad to get them out as they were irritating me. I heal really fast, always have no matter the injury. Cuts tend to take about 24/36 hours to fully knit, and usually within a week they are pretty much healed and just faint scars. This is no exception, and on Thursday when I took them out you would not really tell I had surgery. There is a fine scar and very thin mark that will fade to nothing before I go and see my surgeon.

I thought I would share a photo of the surgery, this was taken about 2 hours after. Although 48 hours later I did have a slight black eye as can be seen in the second picture.

Mince Pies

With a twist…

I do love a good mince pie, and since Christmas is on its way, I decided to start eating them this month, and today I made my own version.

Now, I know that my American readers, and, thinking on, most readers that are not it the UK may not know what the hell a mince pie is. They go by other names of Christmas Pie, Shrid Pie and Mutton Pie, and date back to Tudor times. Although we now use sweet mince and not savory fillings. Sweet mince was also a favourite of the Tudors.

Mincemeat is a sweet filling made from fruit, spices and sugars and has many veriations, but all have the same base with currents and sultanas. My version has a lemon & rose twist to it.

Ingredients

  • 150g Currants
  • 100g Sultanas
  • 100g Chopped nuts (I used salted caramalised pican, almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, macadamia)
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 100g Unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp Ground clove
  • 1 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 60ml Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Rosewater
  • 500g Short Crust Pastry
  • Lemon Curd
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Combine the currants, sultanas, chopped nuts, citrus zests, lemon juice, spices and salt.
  2. Heat butter butter together with sugar in a large saucepan. When butter starts to bubble stir in fruit mixture.
  3. Remove pan from heat. When cool add rosewater.
  4. Roll pastry out to about 2mm thick, cut discs and fit into muffin or small tart tins. Cut discs for the tops too, or have fun and cut stars for the tops.
  5. Place a few spoons of the filling into the pie cases and add a blob of lemon curd on top of the mixture, then add the pastry lid/star. You can use the whisked egg to bond the lid if you are not crimping the edges.
  6. Brush with a bit of egg/eggwash.
  7. I sprinkled the tops with some lavendar sugar that I had mad with culinary lavendar that I keep in a sealed jar.
  8. If using disc lids cut a few little holes to allow the steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 200°C / fan 190°C / Gas mark 5 (adjust times for your oven) or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar before serving.
  11. I like to serve with a dollop of extra thick double cream.

The three on the left of the photo with the slashes in are puff pastry ones I made at the same time. For this I cut out a disc of puff pastry, added the filling to the centre, brushed the edges with egg and added a puff pastry top and pressed it down, washed with egg, slashed the top and baked at the same time, but I did not add the lemon curd to these.

I hope you enjoy this recipe if you make it. But be warned, you may put on weight if consuming too many of these delicious mince pies.

Hospital Visit…

A few weeks ago I had two “growths” removed, one from my face under my right eye and one on my chest. I had had them for a little bit and noticed that the one on my face was getting bigger. It was not bit at all, and most people did not notice it, but I did and that was all that mattered. The one on my chest was a funny brown colour and not like a regular mole. One of the GP’s at my surgery (not my regular GP) does minor surgery so I booked an appointment with him and off they came, but I have a lump on the right side of my face about 2/3cm from my right eye that he could not do as it was not a surface lump like the other two, but deep into the skin. The GP told me he would get me an appointment to see a specialist. Just over a week later I was booked into the private hospital to see a consultant in Maxillofacial surgery.

The hospital is only a 10-minute drive (very convenient) and is in the middle of several farmsteads, surrounded by trees turning gold in the autumn sun, and many many pear trees shedding their fruit. The hospital itself is state of the art and appointments always run on time which is a nice change from the overrun NHS hospitals. After being booked in and completing registration paperwork I saw Mr B. He examined the lump quite extensively and quickly diagnosed it as skin cancer, namely basal lymphoma/b-cell lymphoma. He assured me that it was nothing to worry about and he would perform surgery and remove it and I would be left with a few stitches where it was cut out, but as he is also a plastic surgeon the scaring would be minimal. The only thing that I was disappointed about was the scaring, as I do love a good facial scar, also I am a sun whore, but I guess factor 30 or 50 from now on.

I have had many operations in my life and have had 16 (over 8 years) just to rebuild my face including plastic surgery after having it smashed in when I was 17. Yes I picked to look this way ha ha.

I am just awaiting my appointment to go in to have the surgery now, which should be just over a week away.